One contested city council race in West Richland. Here’s our pick | Editorial


Kate Moran ran two years ago for an open seat on the West Richland City Council, and lost to an excellent candidate. She’s running again — this time against a solid incumbent who likely reflects the views of many West Richland residents.

She is challenging Ken Stoker, who was elected in 2015 on a wave of concern over certain council decisions at the time, particularly in regard to zoning and spending issues.

He has lived in West Richland for 21 years and began monitoring City Hall long before running for office. Now that he’s got the job, he has settled in and continues to fight for private property rights and fiscal responsibility.

He also has pushed for the council to give citizens more time to comment on city business, which is admirable.

Even though this is a nonpartisan race, Stoker has the endorsement of the Benton County Republican Party and is running on a conservative platform.

West Richland is growing, but it has few commercial businesses and industry to support the surge in residential homes. Stoker said he is all for economic development, but believes it will come eventually. In the meantime, he wants to preserve the community’s rural lifestyle.

He suggests the city should be prepared for commercial development, but he doesn’t want to use taxpayer money to stimulate new business opportunities.

Moran, on the other hand, believes the city should take a more pro-active approach to development.

She believes the city should work more closely with the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC), and wants commercial growth to be planned — and planned well.

It is on this issue of economic growth that we side with Moran. We recommended her for city council last time because of her vision, and we do so again.

We understand Stoker’s perspective will be appreciated by many West Richland citizens who don’t want their town to change much. But change is happening, and city leaders need to be ahead of it.

How will West Richland provide the infrastructure for continued residential growth without bringing in revenue from commercial development?

We think Moran’s forward-thinking attitude is needed to help answer that question.

She is bright, committed to public service and enthusiastic.

She served in the U.S. Navy for nine years before moving to West Richland, and is now a nuclear facilities specialist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

She also is chairwoman of the city’s planning commission, as well as a member of the West Richland Police Department Community Advisory Board.

While we are impressed with Moran, we do wonder how her stance on marijuana will go over with West Richland residents.

She believes it is time to allow voters to decide if they want to revisit the city moratorium on cannabis shops, while Stoker believes most residents are still against allowing marijuana sales in the city limits.

Many residents who like the way West Richland is going will be attracted to Stoker. But we think change is inevitable and Moran’s vision would be a good addition to the council.

The Tri-City Herald recommends Kate Moran for West Richland 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.

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