A former muffler shop owner and the owner of an auto sales lot are vying for a seat on the Kennewick City Council.
Gloria Tyler Baker, who ran several one-hour cleaners before taking ownership of Clearwater Auto Plaza, is looking to unseat 24-year incumbent Robert "Bob" Olson in Tuesday's all-mail election.
Olson won the three-way, Ward 1 primary with 46 percent of the votes to Baker's 32 percent.
In this election, all 33,485 registered voters in the city's three wards will decide between the two.
Tyler Baker, who has no prior experience in elected office, said her interest in public service reaches back several decades. She founded the Coats for Kids drive in 1987 to provide winter clothing to the Union Gospel Mission.
Her family business, One-Hour Cleaners, ran the coat drive the first year, but the effort evolved into a community wintertime project that still enjoys wide support.
Tyler Baker has no complaints about the council, and says Olson "is a good guy." She wants a chance to bring her style and fiscally conservative perspective to running the city.
"I've spent a lot of time educating myself about all the things that happen in the city. And I've gotten to know a lot of great people (by being a candidate)," she said.
"And, I enjoy challenges," Tyler Baker said.
Tyler Baker is short on political experience, but she has something Olson lacks: endorsement of the Plumber and Steamfitters Union, Local 598.
The union also is backing council incumbents Steve Young and Paul Parish in their re-election bids.
If voters agree, this will be Olson's seventh consecutive stint on the council.
Retired as the owner and operator of Melody Mufflers, Olson still owns rental properties in the city.
He wants to stay on the council to see the completion of projects that will ensure that Southridge will be developed and to guide the city through the next biennium.
Citing his long tenure, Olson said experience will be important as the city goes through "tough economic times ahead."
Olson said he helped bring about several important positive things in the past four years. They include hiring a new city manager, switching to a hearing examiner system for land-use hearings, qualifying for a state grant of $25 million for Southridge through a local revitalization program and moving ahead with extending Hildebrand Boulevard and Steptoe Street.
Olson said he is happy Tyler Baker entered the race because it shows citizens are interested in city government. But he contends his experience counts more than ever, especially with Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature poised to cut more money in an attempt to balance the state budget.
But Tyler Baker said she can bring a businesslike common sense to the council, and will consult with Olson as needed, if elected.
"This is not personal. I think he'd be OK if I am elected," Tyler Baker said.
Serving on the council pays $992 a month, plus health benefits.