A construction business owner, a senior researcher at Battelle and a Tri-City Railroad employee are running to replace incumbent Ron Hayden in Position 6 on the West Richland City Council.
Hayden decided not to run for reelection. He is working towards a master’s degree and wanted to spend more time with family, he said.
Scott Whalen, Braden Sloughter and Neomi Garza will face off in the Aug. 4 primary election, with the top two finishers moving on to the general election in November.
Whalen and his family moved to West Richland three years ago from New Mexico.
He works at Battelle, leading research teams, creating strategic plans and “solving some of the country’s most challenging problems,” he said. Much of his work focuses on energy-related issues.
Like his fellow candidates, Whalen has never been elected to a city government position, though he doesn’t think that makes him unqualified.
Whalen’s work with Battelle, collaborating with others across the nation and building unity in his own team, will serve him well on the council, he said.
“Just being able to distill pretty complex problems down to the crux of the issues,” he said.
Whalen would like to clean up the Van Giesen Corridor to make it more attractive for businesses, he said. He sees promoting economic development, while keeping in mind citizens’ affinity for a rural lifestyle, as the biggest issue facing West Richland in the future.
Whalen would also like to find ways to improve parks and use tax revenue for city improvements.
“The challenge West Richland has is retaining tax dollars within the city,” Whalen said. “Our dollars get spent elsewhere than our city.”
Sloughter first ran for city council in 2009 at the age of 19, he said. Though his first bid was unsuccessful, he is using the experiences from that campaign as he makes another push at the age of 25.
The marketing assistant for Tri-City Railroad wants to bring to the council the perspective of a young person who has grown up his entire life in West Richland, he said.
“I think I bring a little different view to this city,” Sloughter said. “It’s an affordable place to live. I am a young, single person. I want young people to have fun things to do in West Richland.”
Sloughter is currently the vice chair of the Parks Board, helping with a major development project at a popular recreation spot and the redesign of the board’s operating plan, he said.
If elected, Sloughter would like to create incentives for new businesses in the area, help to bring in more revenue and grow the city, he said.
“We have so many resources. We could have a lot more to do,” he said. “We need to capitalize on being right next to Red Mountain and the river. There’s so much potential we can capitalize on.”
Neomi Garza, who could not be reached for comment, owns two construction management companies and is a mother of two children, according to her campaign webpage.
Garza would work closely with public safety agencies, community groups and youth sports teams if elected, her page said. Owning her own business has taught her her financial responsibility and how to manage a budget.
“As an elected council representative, I would earn our citizens’ trust through transparency and consistency, while doing my part to ensure we preserve our rural way of life as we continue to grow,” her campaign statement said.