So, you know that ballot that’s still on the counter? It’s time to fill it out and send it in.
The primary election is Tuesday and ballots are due by 8 p.m. that day. These are mostly local races where three or more people have filed for the same office and voters need to trim the names down to two for the general election in November.
In Benton County, the Kennewick, Benton City and West Richland city councils have multiple candidates running for office, as well as the Richland School Board and the Kennewick Public Hospital District.
Voters in west Pasco and rural Franklin County get a say in a special election to fill the unexpired seat of former state Rep. Susan Fagan, a Republican from Pullman who resigned over allegations she falsified travel expense reports.
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Rep. Mary Dye, a Republican and wheat farmer from Pomeroy, was appointed to fill the seat by area county commissioners. She will take on former Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim, also a Republican, and Democrat Kenneth E. Caylor, a former Othello city councilman.
And in Pasco, three city council races have attracted several first-time candidates.
The fatal shooting of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in downtown Pasco in early February has stirred civic interest in the community, and that’s a great thing. Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins, who serves an at-large position, has three opponents, and so does city Councilman Al Yenney, who represents District 1. Mayor Pro-tem Rebecca Francik faces two in the District 5 race.
While it is great to see more people willing to run for office, it would be equally great to see a large voter turnout. When people step up to serve, the community should step up and vote.
The Pasco City Council seems to be encouraging more community participation, and this past year deliberately designed two voting districts with a Hispanic majority. Voters in each district select the top two candidates in the primary election and then the entire city votes in the general election.
While some say this system dilutes the Hispanic vote, state law requires it for now. Pasco, however, is looking to change to a district-only voting system in the future if it can.
In Kennewick, city Councilman Paul Parish has attracted two opponents who both are against the city council’s decision last year to increase the number of at-large positions from one to three.
Boundary changes to the voting districts put city Councilman Bob Olson’s home in the same ward as Parish. Changing to more at-large positions helps the two avoid running against each other in this year’s primary election.
Kennewick City Council members who approved the switch say more at-large positions provides for a greater pool of candidates, and that city council members represent the entire city — not just a neighborhood.
Now it is up to the voters to decide what they think. Be sure and vote.