KENNEWICK — Steve Young wants another term on the Kennewick City Council, but only if the voters will have him, he says.
As a new mayor, Young survived a serious challenge two years ago. This time, his opponent grabbed media attention by calling for a citywide ban on illegal immigrants and imposing English-only language for all government business.
But Loren Nichols went even further after declaring himself a candidate who would recommend illegal immigration be a capital crime, punishable at U.S. borders.
Nichols is no stranger to city hall, having made several visits to council meetings to comment about illegal immigration and foreign language concerns. He is a first-time candidate who has worked in landscaping and product inventorying.
Nichols told the Herald this summer that he decided to run for office after getting unsatisfactory responses from the council on his concerns.
Young, who also is the mayor of the seven-member council, has let Nichols do all the talking about illegal immigration.
Young said getting Southridge projects completed, Steptoe Street extended and creating a city budget focused on council priorities, will continue to be his top objectives during the next four years.
Nichols, who received 27 percent of the vote in the August primary, has refused to be interviewed by the Herald, claiming the newspaper has not treated him fairly in its editorial comments.
The Nov. 8 election will have all registered voters in Kennewick's three wards eligible to vote for Young and Nichols.
Young is a projects manager at Hanford, where he oversaw the disbursement of $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money under the Department of Energy, while leading the council through major internal reorganization and the hiring of a new city manager during the past two years.
Young was appointed to the council almost three years ago, filling the vacancy left when then-Mayor Jim Beaver was elected to the Benton County Commission. Young then ran for that seat two years ago, as required by law.
Young told the Herald's editorial board that he wants to see the city focus on the future growth of Southridge, further development of the Three Rivers Convention Center and surrounding properties, and to work with the Port of Kennewick to "shape a new downtown," which he called crucial to the future of the city.
"We need a 20- to 40-year plan. The city is a $263-million business, and we need to have a plan," Young said.
Young noted that when he and three others joined the council, several internal changes happened at city hall.
The council created three committees -- budget, infrastructure and economic development -- so city staff could have better communication with council members.
"This helps us look at long-term, not short-term problems and solutions," Young said.
The mayor said having a "new" council also provided an opportunity to lead them into being more open in their discussions on public issues.
"It took about seven to eight months to convince them it is OK to be open and upfront. No more of those private breakfast meetings at Sterling's restaurant," he said.
One of the city's biggest needs is for industrial land, Young said.
While Southridge may be Kennewick's future for growth, the council also has to look for land that will support industrial development, he said.
"We should have been setting aside industrial land 10 years ago," said Young, who believes vast spaces south of I-82 could be the answer.