Elections

Small cruises to third term on Benton commission

Republican Shon Small of Prosser is being challenged for his Benton County commission seat by Republican Lori Sanders of Kennewick.
Republican Shon Small of Prosser is being challenged for his Benton County commission seat by Republican Lori Sanders of Kennewick.

Benton County voters have returned Commissioner Shon Small to the county commission for a third term.

With 85 percent of ballots counted Tuesday night, Small, a Prosser Republican, was defeating Benton PUD Commissioner Lori Sanders, a Kennewick Republican.

Small had 25,731 votes to 18,076 for Sanders — or 59 percent to 41 percent.

District 2 extends from Prosser to western Kennewick.

Small, a former Benton County sheriff’s deputy, ran on a record that includes challenging his fellow commissioners, Jerome Delvin and Jim Beaver, neither up for election this cycle.

While he’s often on the losing end of 2-1 votes, Small said he’s successfully persuaded his colleagues to reverse their positions on how to spend the surplus public safety sales tax, to fund the Tri-City Metro Drug Task Force and a detective to investigate internet child sex predators.

He was widely supported by local law enforcements, winning endorsements from all Tri-City police chiefs and sheriffs.

Sanders, who owns an energy consulting business and serves on the Energy Northwest executive board, ran on a platform to bring a fresh approach to governance to Benton County.

The race was generally genial, with the candidates disagreeing on how they approach overseeing complicated organizations rather that on core issues.

She said a series of crises centering on marijuana licenses, an unexpected rent hike at the Benton County Fairgrounds, the public safety sales tax surplus and a wrongful termination lawsuit by a former employee signaled a need for stronger governance and better communication.

The county’s three elected commissioners oversee a biennial budget of $300 million.

Commissioners are paid about $108,000, plus benefits, including a vehicle.

The Benton County Auditor reports voter turnout was 50 percent. Results will be updated Wednesday evening.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514\

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