Kennewick librarian Thomas Moak is banking on two decades of community leadership experience to bring him back to a fourth term on the city council.
But three challengers -- a retired computer systems engineer, a mortgage lender and a licensed Realtor-- also want the job.
Where Moak, who has been mayor since January, says he's a team player who's led the city through its best periods of growth and development, the challengers say recent council decisions show it's time to change the team lineup.
The position is a four-year term on the seven-member council and pay is $992 a month. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Tuesday, and the top two vote-getters advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
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"I bring a fresh viewpoint and will work for fiscal responsibility," said Jim Zimmerman, a mortgage lender who has lived 11 years in Kennewick. The Spokane native says he wants to help make Kennewick a place where people want to live because it can provide family-wage jobs.
The married father of three children said he was considering becoming a candidate after noticing the city lost a breach of contract lawsuit with the Columbia Park Golf Course with a $3 million jury verdict, and the council's rush to approve a $73 million, five-year capital spending plan.
"I was approached by a few folks who were concerned about Vista Field (possibly closing) and Columbia Park (issues)," said Zimmerman, 41.
The city council has been interested in whether the Port of Kennewick closes the Vista Field airport because that could create opportunities for more development near the Three Rivers Convention Center. The council also has discussed how to develop Columbia Park and whether an antique Charles Carmel carousel should be placed there.
Zimmerman said the city has no authority to make a decision about Vista Field, so it should stop talking about it. He believes the historic carousel should be at the east end of Columbia Park near the Playground of Dreams, and that the council's recently approved capital projects spending plan is "too much, too fast."
As a first-time candidate for public office, Zimmerman has shown he can attract campaign cash. As of Aug. 12, he was leading the field in the Ward 3 race for council with $3,196 in contributions. And his top donors were Cadwell Laboratories, owned by Carl Cadwell, and Stevens Center Management, which is owned by George Garlick. Cadwell wants to save Vista Field. Garlick and Zimmerman attend the same church.
Zimmerman said getting a contract renewed for the city firefighters, who've been without one for two years, is one of his priorities. "An agenda, if I have one, is public safety," he said.
His campaign website is www. zimm4council.com.
A resident of the east end of Kennewick for five years, Venden says the city should finish what it started in the downtown area before moving on to other projects. "We need to build up the safety and security downtown and make it a walking community," she said.
Venden, 41, a licensed Realtor, also wants to see Columbia Park developed more. She is not in favor of placing the carousel in the Vista Entertainment District near the convention center, and she believes the airport should remain at Vista Field where several companies depend on it for their business.
"It's obvious the city of Kennewick isn't doing its job because there's a record number of people running for election," said, Venden. She, too, has received a $1,000 campaign donation from Cadwell in what is her first attempt to be elected to public office. A family member donated $300 as her only other donation.
Venden is on the board for the Kennewick Housing Authority, is on the public policy committee for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce and serves on the land use committee for the Washington State Association of Realtors.
"The city of Kennewick needs an identity and a vision for the future," said Venden, who added that bringing more businesses and building more employment opportunities are some of her top goals.
Controlling expenses and fiscal responsibility are Hubbard's priorities as a council candidate.
He favors putting the carousel in Columbia Park, keeping the airport at Vista Field and enhancing Columbia Park, which he says is Kennewick's front door.
"I'm an old-fashioned person, the common sense candidate who also is an optimist," said Hubbard, 72, who has made Kennewick his home for 40 years except for a time spent in Australia on a church mission.
Hubbard said he decided on his own to enter the race and was not urged by anyone to be a candidate. Yet, he has received $350 in campaign cash, and loaned himself $1,500 for the election effort.
Hubbard is a retired engineer who worked at Battelle and Westinghouse. He has six children, and served on the Kennewick Board of Adjustment in the '90s and was bond chairman for several school bond measures.
"People need to know their voices have been heard. They want a leader, someone who can draw the community together," Hubbard said.
Hubbard said the jury award against the city in the Columbia Park lawsuit "shows poor judgment" on the part of the council, and that putting an entertainment district "cheek to jowl" with an airport would only drive away business development on airport property. "An entertainment district always must be subsidized. Why drive jobs away?" he said.
Hubbard has a website for his campaign at www.John4Kennewick.Org.
Looking back over 12 years, Moak said he is glad to have been part of the council decisions that brought revitalization to downtown Kennewick, that built the Creekstone subdivision and turned Columbia Park into a beautiful family-oriented riverfront recreational area.
"I like working as a team and team dynamics on the council. It's exciting," said Moak, 56. That's why he wants to continue to serve, to complete the vision for Southridge area development and launch projects for riverfront development between the cable and blue bridges in an area generally known as Bridge-2-Bridge.
"I've been part of the team that has made Kennewick one of the best cities in the state. Now I'm the leader and we have a livable, safe, clean, affordable community with low taxes," he said.
Moak says he's invested 25 years in the community, both as a volunteer and elected official. His service earned him the title of Kennewick Man of the Year even before he was elected to the council in 1997.
"New blood by itself is not enough. What's their vision and drive? This council is very focused on the future and our experience guides us," he said.
If the Port of Kennewick decides to close Vista Field, that land could be put to more profitable use, providing greater opportunities for development, he said.
The city's $860,000 investment in the carousel is not lost, Moak said, because it is worth far more. The big question is where to put it, but not in Columbia Park where it would not be available for year-round use, he noted.
Moak said the golf course lawsuit decision isn't a done deal until the appeal is over.
And he defends the council's decision for a $73 million capital projects plan, saying the city needs to move now "to grow the pie" and build future revenue.
Moak, who has been a manager for the Kennewick library in the Mid-Columbia Library District for 30 years, plans to run a low-cost campaign, putting his efforts into signs and knocking on doors. Moak has received no donations.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; email@example.com