Incumbents set to return to Kennewick council

Three incumbents on the Kennewick City Council appear to have been re-elected to four-year terms.

Unofficial results from Tuesday's count of the all-mail election showed Steve Young, Paul Parish and Bob Olson running well ahead of their opponents.

Young, Kennewick's mayor, carried the way for the Position 7 seat with almost 70 percent of the vote.

He had 6,476 votes to challenger Loren Nichols' 2,796 votes, or 30 percent.

"I'm really happy with (the election results), especially the voter turnout. I'm most pleased and happy with the confidence voters have in me. I've worked hard to earn their trust," Young told the Herald on Tuesday night.

Young, who successfully ran for election in 2009 to finish the four-year term he was appointed to in 2008, said Tuesday's results favoring the incumbents shows voters like the direction the city is going.

"Citizens see we are doing all the right things and staying within our means," he said.

It was much different from two years ago when three council incumbents were ousted.

"We had issues, the (Vista Field) airport, the lawsuit involving the Columbia Park Golf Course and the carousel. Since then we've been discussing things in the open and the community understands we are within budget and getting things done. They are happy with us," Young said.

Young declined to comment about his opponent, Nichols.

Nichols did not return Herald phone calls.

He won 27 percent of the vote in the three-way primary in August, seizing public attention by saying illegal immigration was an act of rape on the U.S. borders, and that it should be made a capital crime.

Nichols also said he would like to see Kennewick become an English-only community.

As a candidate, Nichols said the city should back off on doing so many high-priced projects at once. He referred to the city's efforts to extend Steptoe Street, build Hildebrand Boulevard and install costly infrastructure in the Southridge Area.

Paul Parish can expect to begin his fifth term for Position 6. He received 5,851 votes, or 63 percent, while challenger Diane Crawford received 3,423 votes, or nearly 37 percent, in her first attempt at seeking public office.

Parish said he now can go back to work on preparing the next biennium budget, and see the Southridge development proceed and the Steptoe Street extension completed.

"I'm an incumbent and I've always tried to do my job the way it should be done. I always believed in building a better community and giving back," he said.

Parish said he wasn't overconfident about being returned to the council, however. "You never know in a recession, sometimes people just want change," he said.

Bob Olson collected 5,604 votes, or nearly 61 percent, in turning back a challenge from Gloria Tyler Baker, who finished with 3,604 votes, or 39 percent. Olson has served in the Position 5 seat since 1987.

"I think the people liked the job we were doing. That's the only way I can explain it," said Olson, who at age 79 is the longest serving council member, with 24 years on the dais.

The elections department issued 33,664 mail ballots in Kennewick, and had 38 percent, or 12,668 of them returned, as of Tuesday morning.

County Auditor Brenda Chilton said countywide the returns were about 34 percent.

Ballots received Tuesday or those that arrive by mail with postmarks no later than Nov. 8, will be counted in coming days.

Chilton said about 13,000 ballots remain to be counted for all county races.

-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com