2 Franklin County employees challenge Commissioner Brad Peck

Franklin County District 1 Commissioner Brad Peck must overcome two county employees challenging him Aug. 7 to pursue a second term.

Mark Faith, a building official, and Rosie Rumsey, human resources director, are making their first attempts at being elected to public office.

Faith is running on a promise he can do the commissioner job better, while Rumsey says her knowledge obtained through years of government service makes her the best candidate.

Peck, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who was elected in 2008, has endorsements from the Franklin County Republicans, U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Peck says he has reduced the size of government, cut spending, implemented internal controls and accountability on county government and worked to address gang problems, criminal justice and resolve livestock range issues.

A proposed west Pasco annexation involving about 4,000 people and the future of the TRAC facility are key issues for the district.

All three candidates are cautious about a proposal to repurpose the TRAC facility of Road 68 as an aquatic center.

Faith, a county inspector for seven years, said TRAC should be enhanced as an ag and multiuse facility, not converted into aquatic center, which he believes cannot succeed financially.

Rumsey said she doesn't have enough information to decide about TRAC's future. "The question is, do we pour more money into it?" she said.

Peck said TRAC is a county asset that should not be handed over to be repurposed as a regional aquatic center without Franklin County being made whole for its investment.

He said the county is making an offer to the Pasco Public Facilities District and city of Pasco to reflect those financial concerns and to require that ag-related facilities at TRAC be made available elsewhere in Franklin County.

Faith, who only recently moved to the county and still owns a home in West Richland, opposes Pasco annexing the doughnut hole without a public vote.

Peck publicly shares that view and has been instrumental in leading community informational meetings about the city's proposed annexation.

Rumsey, who lives inside the doughnut hole, agrees that property owners in the affected area should have a say in being annexed. But she also believes there is no chance the area can remain in the county because of ongoing growth.

"The only real choice is to be annexed or form a new city," Rumsey said, and her vote would be to join Pasco.

"I would not want to create a city within a city. It would be an island city with no room to grow," said Rumsey, who has held finance jobs for the cities of Wapato and Prosser.

Rumsey said she instituted vital finance controls to ensure checks and balances during her municipal employment prior to coming to work for Franklin County.

Another issue involves the $1.8 million theft in the county's Public Works Department, allegedly by former county employee Dennis Huston, who is being prosecuted on charges of embezzlement.

Faith says the commissioners, including Peck, handled it well.

But Rumsey claims Peck didn't do all he could have after first hearing about the potential problem in 2009.

Peck counters that McKenna's endorsement praising him for having been open, transparent and instrumental in the discovery of the embezzlement shows that the commission acted properly.

-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com