New legislator may keep his Kennewick Council job too

Washington Rep.-elect Matt Boehnke has not decided if he will give up his Kennewick City Council seat.
Washington Rep.-elect Matt Boehnke has not decided if he will give up his Kennewick City Council seat. McClatchy

Kennewick Councilman Matt Boehnke was elected to the state Legislature this week but he’s not quite ready to give up on his city job.

He told the Herald on Wednesday he hasn’t decided if he will keep his seat on the Kennewick City Council.

He won election Tuesday to the 8th District House seat being vacated by Rep. Larry Haler. The Richland Republican did not seek re-election.

Boehnke, a fellow Republican, defeated Democrat Christopher Tracy, 67 percent to 33 percent, according to the latest ballot count released Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, Boehnke said he may try to serve in both positions.

Kennewick officials say state law does not require council members to give up their seats if they’re elected to the Legislature.

Matt Boehnke
Matt Boehnke File

The Washington Constitution only bans legislators from being appointed or elected to additional offices once they already are in the Legislature.

The Legislature holds 105-day sessions in odd-numbered years and 60-day sessions in even-numbered years, in addition to special sessions convened by the governor and committee meetings.

The House position will pay $48,000 next year.

City council members are paid $12,000 a year plus benefits and attend weekly council meetings and workshop sessions, as well as represent the city on various boards and at community events.

Also, Boehnke said he is working out a way to continue serving as director and associate professor of the cybersecurity division at Columbia Basin College.

Teaching online courses could help him fulfill his obligations, he said.

Boehnke is hardly the first city council member to advance to a state-level post.

Five years ago, then-Kennewick City Councilwoman Sharon Brown was appointed to the state Senate seat vacated by Jerome Delvin when he was elected to the Benton County Commission. In that case, Brown gave up her local seat.

The city considered three candidates before voting to appoint Greg Jones, the Department of Energy’s chief financial officer at Hanford, to serve until the next election.

The council will follow a similar process if Boehnke opts to step down.

The appointee would have to run for election in 2019, which is when Boehnke’s council term expires.

He is one of four council members elected from the entire city.

Boehnke will be sworn in to his new state role when the Legislature convenes in January.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514