Challengers are not new to Kennewick city councilman Paul Parish.
The 20-year veteran council member has faced at least one opponent four out of the past five times he stood for election.
He’s survived those challenges, Parish told the Herald, because his record shows he’s all about public safety and quality of life in Kennewick.
“Whatever’s good for the city,” he said. “It’s not rocket science.”
But Diane Crawford and Ed Pacheco, who each have sought council positions in recent years and volunteered for commissions and other initiatives, said the city has had mixed results when it comes to economic development and a new voice on the council could change that.
Kennewick council members are elected to 4-year terms and Parish’s seat is an at-large position. Council members receive $992 in compensation per month.
Ballots have already been mailed to registered voters and are due in an official dropbox or in the Benton County clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Aug. 4. In a primary, the two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general election, regardless of their party preference.
Parish, 79, is semi-retired but still runs a crane consulting business. Pacheco, 54, moved to Kennewick as a child, has 30 years in law enforcement and is currently a K-9 officer for Hanford Patrol. Crawford, 63, moved to the Tri-Cities in 1991, is also semi-retired but works part-time in accounting.
The rehabilitation of Columbia Park, the development of the Sept. 11 memorial next to the Southridge Sports Complex and the return of the Carousel of Dreams were all achieved during Parish’s tenure and with his support, the council member said.
There’s still work to do, though, he said, noting the city needs to work to expand the Three Rivers Convention Center so it can continue to draw events and visitors. Vista Field, the large former airfield owned by the Port of Kennewick and now targeted for redevelopment as an urban core, will needs infrastructure such as roads and utilities. That could be a struggle for the city as state support for such capital projects has dried up.
Crawford, who ran against Parish four years ago and garnered 33 percent of the vote, said there needs to be a woman’s voice on the council. There hasn’t been since state Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, stepped down so she could represent voters in Olympia.
Crawford is also disappointed with how the council has addressed other development projects while saying it’s pro-growth, she said. The Southridge area has received regular attention but the Bridge to Bridge area between the Columbia River and downtown has languished, with a plan to revitalize the area tabled for four years until recently being reintroduced.
“You’re not for growth if you’re stymieing projects,” Crawford said.
Pacheco, a member of the city’s planning commission and supporter of the city’s successful bid to implement a new public safety tax earlier this year, sought Brown’s seat two years ago. Not enough effort has gone into growing manufacturing in the city, he said.
While the council lost an effort to expand Kennewick’s urban growth boundary south of Interstate 82, ostensibly to create an industrial zone, there seems to be more interest in adding less lucrative and stable retail jobs, he said. There also appears to be a reluctance to compete with other cities’ economic development efforts.
“I think we’ve gotten comfortable,” he said.
Both challengers also attacked the council’s decision last year to increase the number of at-large council positions from one to three. While all city residents vote for all council positions in general elections, residents of wards determine candidates in primaries.
Crawford and Pacheco said the change protects incumbents and could open the city up to issues such as those in Yakima, which is being forced to revise how council members are elected to ensure equal representation of ethnic groups.