Kennewick City Council is on the verge of change. This is who we recommend and why | Editorial

The philosophical direction of the Kennewick City Council could shift after the November election.

It’s no secret a distinct 5-2 split has surfaced on certain contentious issues, with Kennewick City Councilmen John Trumbo and Bill McKay in the minority.

The divide became more apparent last April when the city council censured Trumbo for misusing his office and investigating on his own an unfounded drug rumor about fellow Councilman Steve Lee, who owns state-licensed cannabis shops in Benton and Adams counties.

Since then, the city council also has voted 5-2 to adopt a new code of ethics for city officials, with Trumbo and McKay again in the minority.

Split councils are healthier than those that unanimously — and blindly — rubber-stamp every recommendation from city staff. But we fear hard feelings have cast a shadow over the group, and we would like to see a more collaborative spirit take hold among Kennewick’s elected leaders.

In two of the three city council races, the candidates are newcomers vying for open seats. That means the dynamics of the current council are bound to change regardless of who gets elected for those particular positions. We weigh in on one of those today.

In another race, Incumbent Chuck Torelli faces go-getter challenger Chariss Warner.

Torelli vs. Warner

Torelli was appointed to the Kennewick City Council in January to serve out the remaining term of Matt Boehnke, who resigned after being elected to the Washington Legislature.

He is a retired manager from Hanford, a Vietnam vet, and spent his free time regularly attending Kennewick City Council and Benton County Commission meetings. A few years ago, he joined the city planning commission and helped rewrite Kennewick’s comprehensive plan.

In addition to his knowledge on many city land-use issues, Torelli’s campaign slogan is, “Policies, Not Politics.”

While the city council is nonpartisan, Torelli notes that “ideology has replaced ideas and expertise is dismissed when it conflicts with opinions.”

Torelli said there is “grandstanding” at city council meetings, and he doesn’t go for that. He believes in focusing on policies that move the city forward, and prefers to avoid getting embroiled on issues that are outside the control of the city. We agree with his stance.

Warner is a ministries director at the Tri-Cities Union Gospel Mission, and social service issues are clearly in her wheelhouse. She has been endorsed by the Benton County Republicans, and Trumbo and McKay have contributed to her campaign.

She is quick-witted, easy to like, speaks her mind and — from what we can tell — keeps a smile on her face most of the time. Warner said if elected she would make up her own mind on issues.

But she also admits she would have a lot to learn about being an elected city leader. We encourage Warner to get involved on city boards and commissions so she can broaden her knowledge of city government.

Torelli spent years being involved with city issues before joining the council, and we like his attitude and leadership style. He is a stabilizing force on the council, and we recommend him for another term.

Pacheco vs. Beauchamp

This race is a tough call.

On paper, Ed Pacheco checks a lot of boxes.

A Hanford Patrol K9 officer and member of the Hanford Advisory Board, Pacheco is a tireless volunteer.

He is chairman of the city planning commission and is committed to the city’s comprehensive plan — which has been a tremendous guide for growth and new development in the city.

Pacheco also was a leader in getting the public safety sales tax approved in 2014. That money helps the region’s law enforcement officers battle crime and gangs, and the community is safer because of it.

In addition to his extensive knowledge on planning issues, Pacheco is someone who obviously does his homework and he likely would hit the ground running if elected. He isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, and that’s an important quality for an elected official.

Beauchamp is coming to the election from a different route.

He is a real estate developer known for his residential infill projects, which means he sees opportunity where others see just a patch of vacant land.

His real-world experience dealing with zoning issues, the city’s permitting process, infrastructure and building codes gives him a distinctive edge.

Like Warner, Beauchamp is endorsed by the Benton County Republicans. McKay has contributed to his campaign.

Many of the signs around Kennewick promoting Beauchamp and Warner make it appear they are running as a team, but both said they are not. It was a matter of efficiency, they said, because they had the same people helping them.

Beauchamp is dynamic. We’d like to think he’s visionary, as well, considering his work. He should use his creative skills to move Kennewick ahead.

Voters will get an exceptional new council member regardless of who wins this race. However, since we can recommend only one, we lean toward Beauchamp because of his enterprising spirit.

The Herald recommends Chuck Torelli and Brad Beauchamp for Kennewick City Council.


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.