As former Pasco police officer and business owner Patrick E. Barnett knocks on doors in Franklin County, he hopes he leaves voters with a better understanding of the job that county commissioners do -- something he said most people don't truly grasp.
"The county commissioners' job is to oversee the county's business and services," Barnett said during a campaign kick-off event at Pasco's Volunteer Park on Thursday.
That means more than sitting on boards and attending meetings. It means having a vision for the county's future and taking action to make that vision reality, he said.
Barnett is one of four candidates -- all Republicans -- running for Franklin County commissioner for District 2 including incumbent Commissioner Bob Koch. Other candidates are Al Yenney, a Pasco city councilman and Lee Barrow, a Connell city councilman and Franklin County Sheriff's deputy.
Barnett owns The Leadership Management Group and served in the Navy.
Barnett resigned from the Pasco Police Department in June to run for the county commissioner seat, but he said he'd been thinking about it since November.
What finally convinced him to run was the embezzlement scandal involving Dennis Huston, the former Franklin County Public Works Department's accounting director accused of stealing at least $1.8 million from the county by processing invoices from a defunct company.
Barnett said if he had been a county commissioner when Huston's alleged theft was uncovered, he would have led the investigation and immediately ensured the county created safeguards to prevent future thefts.
"I think as a leader, you have to take responsibility for what happens on your watch," he said. "You come in front and oversee and take a proactive part in the investigation."
But the most important thing Barnett believes a county commissioner can do is take advantage of the county's tremendous population growth to bring in economic development.
"We're No. 5 in population growth (in the nation), but we're not in economic development," he said.
Barnett envisions expanding the county's agricultural and food-processing industries, while also courting technology data centers such as the Microsoft, Yahoo! and Intuit data centers built in Grant County in recent years.
"There's some great things in Franklin County," he said. "We are ripe for growth."
For more about Barnett's campaign, go to www.patrickebarnett.com.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org