Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins is stepping down, already sparking interest in the council race

Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins is not seeking re-election this year, opening up what could be an interesting city council election.

After 16 years, Watkins said he is taking time to travel.

And right away, Zahra Roach announced Monday she will run for his Position 7 at-large seat.

In Pasco’s council-manager form of government, the council rather than voters chooses the mayor from among the council members.

Kennewick and Richland have similar forms of government, while West Richland’s mayor is chosen by voters.

Matt Watkins Supplied photo

Monday is the first day for county auditor to receive candidate declarations by mail for seats up for election in 2019.

Filing week begins May 13.

Local Tri-Cities elections

More than 100 city council, fire district, port commission, hospital district and cemetery district seats in Benton and Franklin counties are up for election this year.

The top two finishers in the Aug. 6 primary will advance to the November general election.

Three Pasco council positions are up for election this year. In addition to Watkins’ seat, the other seats are Position 2, held by Ruben Alvarado, and Position 5, held by David Milne.

Roach chairs the city’s planning commission but is best known for her strong showing in the race for Franklin County Commission last year.

Running as a Democrat, she defeated incumbent Republican Rick Miller in the primary. She lost in the general election to Republican Clint Didier.

City council posts are nonpartisan.

Zahra Roach

Roach is a former Pasco School District teacher who left to begin a family. She and her husband have three young children.

She is also on the executive board of the Children’s Development Center.

“Pasco is my home and I’m very proud to live here. I’m running because I want to give my time and talent to the place I love and to others who also consider it their home,” she said.

Roach said her priorities include promoting business growth that will bring in commercial and industrial investment.

Key Mid-Columbia races

  • Kennewick City Council — at large Positions 5, 6 and 7
  • Richland City Council — at large Positions 1, 2, 5, 6
  • West Richland City Council — Positions 5, 6 and 7
  • Kennewick School Board — Director Districts 3, 4, 5
  • Pasco School Board — District 1 and 2.
  • Richland School Board — Districts 3, 4 and 5
  • Finley School Board — Districts 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Port of Benton — District 1
  • Port of Kennewick — District 2
  • Port of Pasco — District 2

If you’re interested in running

For information about filing in Franklin County, including a list of positions up for election this year, visit bit.ly/Franklin2019Election

For information about filing in Benton County, visit bentonauditor.com/Candidate-Filing

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.