Pasco’s mayor is stepping down. Here’s who should take his seat on the council | Editorial

Pasco voters will decide two city council posts in the November election, and the quality of candidates in both races is solid.

For Position 5, David Milne, the incumbent, is making his first re-election bid since unseating longtime former Pasco Councilwoman Rebecca Francik two years ago.

Milne is challenged by a man he recommended for the Pasco Planning Commission, Isaac “Ike” Myhrum. The two have known and respected each other for some time.

In the at-large race, newcomers Zahra Roach and Patrick Guettner are vying for Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins’ seat, which he will give up at the end of this year.

While we have no doubt about the dedication and drive of all four contenders, we’ve decided civic experience is a key, separating factor in both races.

And that means Milne and Roach get our recommendations.

Roach vs. Guettner

Zahra Roach has been on the Pasco Planning Commission for eight years and is the current chair. She’s earned a reputation for being a collaborative problem solver who has a gift for pulling people together. To add an exclamation point to her candidacy, Roach is Watkins’ choice to replace him on the council.

She’s a lifelong Pasco resident and worked as a teacher for a time in the Pasco School District. Now, she is a full-time wife and mother who volunteers in the community, including serving on the Children’s Developmental Center Board, which addresses early learning issues in Eastern Washington.

Roach said the planning commission is the “workhorse” for the city council. It reviews zoning issues and provides guidance on growth and development within the city. Her experience in this role is extremely valuable.

Guettner is a retired engineer and former chair of the Franklin County Republican Party who has an impressive resume of public service.

He says he is a “hands-on type of manager” with a skill-set from years of managing projects that would be helpful to the city. He is eager to be involved, and emphasized he has the time to devote to work with city staff – which he called “excellent” – on issues without usurping staff authority. Guettner said if he “gets in the weeds, so what?”

We caution him to remember the line separating staff from city council members in a council-manager form of government, which is what Pasco has.

It’s clear, though, that Guettner has a deep devotion to Pasco, where he has lived for 20 years, and he is sincere in his desire to help make it a better place for residents.

Roach, we believe, also is devoted to the city she grew up in. Managing growth will be a big issue for Pasco in the future, and her experience on the planning commission will be vital if she is elected. Her knowledge and her collaborative spirit makes her our pick in this race.

The Herald recommends Zahra Roach for Pasco City Council.

To read our recommendation for David Milne for Pasco City Council, click here.


Behind Our Election Recommendations

Who decides the recommendations?

Members of The Tri-City Herald editorial board interview political candidates, as well as advocates and opponents of ballot measures. The editorial board is comprised of experienced opinion journalists and community members, and is separate from The Herald’s newsroom. Conversations are on the record.

What does the recommendation process entail?

Whenever possible, The Herald editorial board meets with opposing candidates at the same time. The questions are largely focused on a candidate’s qualifications and goals, and the hour-long session resembles a conversation more than a scripted interview. The editorial board then discuss the candidates in each race and decides who to recommend. In the case of ballot measures, we strive to have representatives from both sides of the issue in the room at the same time so we can get past the political rhetoric and obtain firm answers. Board members seek to reach a consensus on our recommendations, but not every decision is unanimous.

Is the editorial board partisan?

No. In making recommendations, members of the editorial board consider which candidates are well prepared to represent their constituents — not whether they agree with us or belong to a particular political party. We evaluate candidates’ relevant experience, their readiness for office, their depth of knowledge of key issues, their understanding of public policy and their ability to work with the current board . We’re seeking candidates who are thoughtful and who offer more than just party-line talking points. The editorial board will endorse both Republicans and Democrats.

Why are the editorials unsigned?

Our election recommendations reflect the collective views of The Herald’s editorial board — not just the opinion of one writer. Board members all discuss and contribute ideas to each editorial.