Rebecca Francik has helped shape Pasco over the past 19 years, but she admits the next four years may be some of the most exciting times in the city.
Several projects that long have been in the planning stages finally are “shovel ready,” and the City Council’s mayor pro-tem can’t wait to see them completed.
But David Milne and R. Theron Cammer question some of Francik’s leadership decisions for the city, and say it is time for a fresh voice on the council.
Milne and Cammer are challenging Francik in her bid for another four-year term representing District 5. The three will face off Aug. 4 in the primary election.
The district covers south of Interstate 182 and west of Highway 395, along with all areas west of Broadmoor Boulevard, which also is known as Road 100. That includes sections which used to be part of the “doughnut hole” before Pasco annexed the unincorporated areas.
The two candidates who receive the most votes in the district-wide election will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
Ballots were mailed earlier this month, and are due in an official drop box or in the Franklin County Auditor’s Office by 8 p.m. Aug. 4.
Pasco City Council members receive a monthly salary of $1,000.
Francik, 59, is a librarian at Rowena Chess Elementary School in Pasco. Since first elected in 1996, she has watched her children become adults and raise their own kids, while she has guided Pasco through its own fits and growth spurts.
She is an information specialist by both temperament and training, and uses data and well-reasoned arguments to make decisions for the council, she said.
Her goal is to look at what is beneficial for the city overall and not just certain areas, and to promote the health of Pasco for the long run.
“I still have the passion and the energy and the time that this job takes,” she said. “I’m not just running because I’ve done it before. I’m running because I want to do this.”
Francik sees Pasco as a great place for new families and industries. However, while the per capita income has gone up quite a bit, the area still is in need of mid-tier job opportunities for professionals who are either new to the community or returning after college, she said.
Projects on her list include the Lewis Street overpass, downtown revitalization, a new community center with multi-use capabilities, road linkages around Road 68 to ease congestion, and future development on Chapel Hill Boulevard and on nearly 500 acres west of Road 100.
Milne, 42, owns Milne Nail Power Tool & Repair on West Lewis Street. A graduate of Columbia Basin College, he started running the family business two decades ago and decided that is where he belonged as the Tri-Cities was booming.
This is his first time running for an elected office, but he has been active with the Boy Scouts and Rotary and is a head coach with Pasco Youth Football, he said. The youth organization asked him to take on a greater leadership role, so he has been working with the city to see about a state grant for light banks, bleachers and paths at Highland Park.
The father of four in a blended family said he always has followed politics and decided now was “a good time to go out and give back to the community.”
“I’d like to see this part of Pasco do better. That’s probably one of the biggest issues is you see everything moving to (Road) 68, and I realize things change but I’d like to see this part of Pasco do well,” said Milne.
Milne’s first house was in the doughnut hole. It was disheartening to hear from former neighbors who have gone through annexation that the city didn’t work out some kind of plan to maintain the rural lifestyle for those residents, he said.
“When people come into my store with a problem, I try to work it out with them and at least feel that I treated them fairly,” he said. “I just felt that people bought those houses in the county because they want to be in the county. I feel there should have been more concessions ... instead of just boom you’re in and that’s it.”
Milne said if elected, he would make an effort to introduce himself to other business owners both to show his appreciation and help with retention in a fluctuating market.
Cammer, 60, retired about four years ago as a health physics technician and health physicist in the Hanford area. He operates a not-for-profit business teaching people to become instructors for gun safety courses.
Cammer spent the majority of his career working in nuclear facilities all over the country, so in 2002 he decided to move to the Tri-Cities because he loved this area during his job assignments.
The grandfather of six said this is his first time running for public office, though he has been a president and executive director of community organizations — such as the Radiation Protection Association and theater groups — before moving to the area.
Cammer wasn’t impressed with the lack of response to items he’s brought before the City Council, he said.
A few years ago, he pointed out that city code was in violation of a state law regarding the preemption of firearms in a local jurisdiction in the event of an emergency. It took a couple of years for one councilman to push the action and get it repealed, he said.
“If they could ignore that with no problem whatsoever, they are not listening to people, and what other laws are there that they can’t be bothered with,” Cammer said.
Cammer describes himself as a frugal person who would work to rein in and eliminate what he views as unnecessary spending, he said.
For more election stories, go to tricityherald.com/election.