Byron Martin, a relatively inexperienced councilman, is hoping his body of work over the last year will be enough to fend off two challengers in the race for one of several open seats on the West Richland city council.
He is opposed by John Smart, a research engineer specialist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Fred Brink, a former FBI special agent.
Martin, 39, was appointed to the council to fill the seat that opened when former councilman Brent Gerry was elected mayor in 2013.
He is the owner of a Kennewick information technology management company and former chair of the city’s Economic Development Board.
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Martin still calls himself the “rookie” of the council, but points to his recent work helping get a new middle school approved and aiding in the development a new park along a popular summer recreation spot.
“I see myself as a good representative of the community and candidate because I have a lot invested in the future of West Richland,” Martin told the Herald.
Smart, 51, has never been directly involved in city or county government before, though he has lived in West Richland for 20 years and regularly attends city council meetings, he said.
Smart views himself as a financial hawk who, if elected, would be committed to financial responsibility, he said. He wants to determine how to continue developing West Richland while preserving the rural and family friendly appeal of the city.
Smart would focus on attracting new businesses to the downtown area and enhancing parks around the city, he said.
“Our challenge is that the city maintains its characteristics, but allows necessary business growth to sustain our tax base,” he said. “It will take finesse, patience and long term planning.”
Martin agreed that finding more tax revenue will be critical to development of West Richland in the future. The city, he said, needs to appeal to more businesses downtown and it’s crucial city officials be open to developing the area efficiently.
Martin has been involved in conversations for some time on how to attract businesses and increase revenue due to his time on the council and Economic Development Board, he said.
“We need to have a smart vision with that growth,” Martin said. “The one (negative) to what we have set up in West Richland is that we don’t have a lot of sales tax income, so we don’t have a lot of flexibility in our funds and budget.”
Brink, who worked in the FBI for more than 20 years, serves on the city’s Planning Commission and the Law and Justice Council in Benton County. He has lived in West Richland since 2009.
Brink could not be reached for comment about the race. A statement on the Benton County Auditor’s website about his campaign says he is dedicated to making West Richland a better place to live.
“Using my public service and leadership experience, I pledge to work with the mayor, other City Council members and each of you to explore economic opportunities that make sense while maintaining the quality of life our community currently enjoys,” the statement said.
The primary election is Aug. 4. The top two vote-getters will move on to the general election in November. The position is a two-year term.
Ballots were mailed out July 15.