Franklin County’s leadership team is in a pivotal state during this election season.
Its county commissioners have made headlines for many of the wrong reasons in the past year, with dismal communications with their peers across the river in Benton County at the top of the list.
The breakdown between the two sides was so bad that it threatened vital services and efficiencies for the citizens of Franklin County. Not all of the blame rests with Franklin County, but the dynamics of the Franklin County Commission was a significant contributing factor.
And while progress is being made on some of those fronts, we’re convinced there is one strong personality on the Franklin County board whose leadership style makes it hard to be a consensus builder.
That makes our recommendations a challenge when we look at the bigger picture.
Commissioner Bob Koch, who represents District 2 in the northern part of the county, is running for re-election after his third term in office. Koch is a likeable guy and someone we have recommended in years past. He has a strong connection to north Franklin County and the agricultural community.
But we’ve also noted that Koch is not the dynamic style of leader we believe is needed to move the county forward and to bring balance to the board. Koch says he wants one more term to follow through on projects like access to Juniper Dunes and the jail removation.
His challenger is Rocky Mullen, a local business owner from a long-time Franklin County farming family.
It’s Mullen’s first foray into politics, and he would have quite a learning curve. Big issues face the county, and he’d have a pile of homework.
But he has a wealth of business experience and would be a good hand when it came to budgets and financial decisions. Mullen would not be easily bullied into making a decision by strong personalities. He’s also a good communicator who would seek information and form his own opinion.
Mullen says he would gather information from other elected officials and try to build a sense of teamwork, rather than the dissension that many cite among those in office in Franklin County. He would help to empower county employees who feel their voices aren’t being heard and improve morale. Many candidates have cited the migration of good employees out of county jobs to more stable environments.
Koch is solid but not one of the strong voices on the board. We think it’s time for change in Franklin County, and we believe Mullen is the candidate for District 2. His desire to work with elected officials and staff rather than a constant butting of heads would be a breath of fresh air for Franklin County. And we believe he can stand toe-to-toe with strong personalities on the board to bring positive results for all involved.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Rocky Mullen for Franklin County commissioner, District 2.
Look for the Herald’s recommendation Thursday in the race for U.S. Senate between incumbent Democrat Patty Murray and Republican challenger Chris Vance.