Matt Boehnke caught many in the community off guard when he initially said he might keep his Kennewick City Council seat after winning a state House race in November.
He thought there might be a way he could manage both elected posts since there was no law against serving in both roles at the same time.
But after talking it through with veteran lawmakers, other elected officials in the community, friends and family, he came to the wise conclusion he should devote his sole attention to his new job representing the 8th Legislative District.
It’s the right call.
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At Tuesday’s Kennewick City Council workshop meeting, Boehnke announced his resignation from the council, which, as it turns out, was just as well because the gathering itself presented a conflict for him.
The council members were meeting with state representatives to discuss legislative priorities.
State Sen. Sharon Brown and State Rep. Brad Klippert were there, and so was Rep.-elect Boehnke – which meant he officially couldn’t attend as a city councilman.
If such a predicament comes up even before the legislative session starts, think of the dilemmas that might arise when his state responsibilities kick in full-time.
Boehnke said he realized keeping his council job might lead some people to think he favors Kennewick over Richland and the rest of the district when he heads off to Olympia.
And he didn’t want that.
“I want to represent everybody – the entire eighth legislative district,” Boehnke said.
He also said he wants to “put his best foot forward” in the new job, and that would be difficult if he “keeps getting pulled back” for Kennewick issues.
When Boehnke first indicated he might not give up his city council seat, we cautioned against him keeping both posts.
While we understood he felt badly about leaving his Kennewick constituents, we were concerned he would burn himself out trying to keep two elected positions, plus his college teaching job.
Boehnke eventually came to that same realization. He truly wants to be a devoted public servant, and was making his decision on what’s best for his constituents.
But others might have made a different choice. It’s a good thing Boehnke researched the issue and brought it to light.
Richland Mayor Bob Thompson told the Herald earlier that the Richland charter does not allow city council members to hold dual offices. But obviously not all cities are like Richland.
Other communities should follow Richland’s lead. That would eliminate someone else – with less scruples than Boehnke – from holding two elected positions for reasons such as money and clout.
Kennewick officials will seek candidates interested in being appointed to complete the final year of Boehnke’s term, which expires in 2019. Come May, others will be able to file for his seat.
We think once Boehnke gets started in his Olympia job, he will be grateful he gave up his Kennewick council post. And the community, we think, will be appreciative too.