Pasco City Councilman Al Yenney considers himself a hands-on guy who always is ready to investigate a constituent’s complaint and attend a committee meeting or training session.
After eight years representing a portion of downtown and all of east Pasco, he believes he still is the best candidate for District 1.
Yenney, in his bid for a third four-year term, has three young, Latino challengers in the primary election: Elias “Eli” Bustos; Bertha Alicia Coria and Juan Bolaños.
The two candidates who receive the most votes in the district-wide election will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
Ballots were mailed in July, 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.
District 1 encompasses the area east of Fourth Avenue, including the Highland and Kurtzman Park neighborhoods, out across Highway 12 to the Snake River.
Yenney, 68, considers himself semi-retired after owning Al’s Repair in Pasco since 1971. That affords him free time to travel out-of-town for meetings or training, he said, so he is better prepared to help direct Pasco into the future.
“I’m a good listener. I listen to the public. I’m not scared to jump in on any subject before I make my decision, and I make my decisions for the betterment of the city,” Yenney said. “My main passion is giving back to the community. I’m passionate to make Pasco a better place to live or to play.”
Yenney said he has a wide range of contacts and expertise through his business, has a lot of common sense and knows the challenges Pasco faces — all attributes he said can help him decide whether the city needs to resolve an issue and, if so, how best to get the job done in a timely fashion.
He said he was instrumental in getting ADA access around a fenced area to the bike trial at Chiawana Park, helped Goodwill get their parking project finished after a two-week delay by the city because of misinterpreted regulations, and pushed for residents at A Street and Fourth Avenue to get a road paved with a hard surface per a written agreement after a turn lane was installed.
“When somebody tells me about something, I actually go and look, and once in a while it gets me in trouble,” he said, noting that it could be a quasi-judicial issue.
Yenney said there are too many unfinished projects to list, but he would like to see a new animal shelter get completed, the property west of Road 100 developed and car dealerships go in around Burden Boulevard to help generate more sales tax.
When asked why voters should return the incumbent, Yenney said, “All they have to do is go back and look at my record, and they should return me. See how many times I stuck up and got positive change for the citizens of Pasco.”
Bustos, 29, is a student at Columbia Basin College with a background in education, focusing on special education. He moved to east Pasco at age 5, graduated from Jubilee Christian Academy in 2004 and, after attending school in Yakima and Eugene, Ore., decided to come back home and finish his bachelor’s degree.
He said a common trend in today’s work force is that even if he has the work experience and the knowledge about the specific job, he still needs “that piece of paper” to advance in most industries. In addition, the father of three through a blended family said he wants his kids to understand the value of finishing what you started.
Bustos said he has worked with the Washington State Migrant Council and the Yakima School District as a paraeducator, and wants to be a social worker to make a difference in childrens’ lives.
“I’ve always gravitated towards working with people, helping people out. In this community, there are tons of resources but people just are not educated on where they’re at and how to obtain them,” he said.
He describes himself as an altruistic person who will take the shirt off his own back for someone else, even if they are a stranger. He has had aspirations to run for local public office since he was 18, in part because he watched the way people treated his Spanish-speaking mother and took advantage of her.
Bustos coaches youth basketball, soccer and Little League baseball, and for two years has been on the Tierra Vida Community Council for his housing development. He said he does not want to play the race card, but thinks a lot of city boards are not fairly represented based on Pasco’s demographics.
“This is my personal belief: Everybody wants to make a difference, but nobody is willing to make the first step. That’s where I set myself apart from others, because I do take that first step,” Bustos said.
He added that he has the energy, the ability to listen and is not afraid to say the wrong thing.
“I want to bring a new voice, instill that confidence (residents once had in the police department) and make sure that the vision for Pasco keeps growing.”
Coria, 19, is a Pasco native who graduated from Pasco High School in 2014. She was a member of her school’s DECA club and traveled to Washington, D.C., to present a safe-driving campaign during a national conference.
She has been working for the Pasco School District since October as a substitute paraeducator and is a student at Charter College, focusing on network security.
Coria, who is bilingual, said the council needs diversity because only one of its seven members is Hispanic. She is a member of Tri-Cities Community Solutions, a group that has held regular rallies and protest since the fatal police shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes.
“There’s just been a lot of issues in Pasco and it finally just opened up my eyes, and I saw that if nobody speaks up and steps forward, nothing is going to change,” she said. She started attending city council meetings after the Feb. 10 shooting, and “it just changed my whole point of view of how things are running here in Pasco.”
Coria wants to see more mental health help centers in Pasco, the creation of “tiny home villages” for what she says has been a spike in the homeless population, and a community center with a time bank where people can volunteer time to tutor students and provide resources to residents.
Coria said she believes the best way to cover the projects is through grants.
“I’ve got a bunch of ideas to help the community grow, to help the community improve,” she said. “I guess you could say the slogan for my campaign would be, ‘The voice of the community,’ or ‘ La voz de la comunida’ in Spanish.”
Bolaños did not return phone calls or an email from the Herald.
According to an online voters’ guide, he moved to Pasco from Yakima at a young age and joined the Pasco Police Explorer program his senior year at Pasco High School. His senior project was on law enforcement.
Bolaños wrote in his candidate statement that after going on ride alongs with officers in 2001 and learning proper techniques for interacting with citizens, searching and handcuffing suspects and deescalating situations, he has noticed a difference with how things are handled today. He said he believes officers are “not presenting themselves professionally” and he does not approve of the way the Pasco Police Department approaches the community.
He says that is “one reason I want to help this city for the better. I am here for the people.”
Bolaños was one of four people arrested for disorderly conduct during a march in April protesting Zambrano-Montes’ death. The group reportedly refused to get out of the street.
For more election stories, go to tricityherald.com/election.