The Kennewick City Council has four seats up for grabs this year. We're making recommendations in two of those races today and the other two tomorrow.
Britain v. Boehnke
Don Britain joined the council in 2010 and serves as the mayor pro tem. He is a Kamiakin grad and has lived in Kennewick ever since.
His opponent, Matt Boehnke, also graduated from Kamiakin and has recently returned to the area after a career in the military, where, among other assignments, he was a helicopter pilot in Desert Storm.
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These candidates do not differ greatly from each other. Both are interested in fiscal responsibility and job creation. Both say they favor transparency in city government.
To his credit, Boehnke has been around the world, has seen what works in other communities and has new ideas he would like to implement here.
He is engaged in the community and serves on the Kennewick Arts Commission.
We like to see candidates who have put an effort into some civic boards and committees before they run for office. It helps them to see what they are in for.
We also commend him for having some fresh ideas. We like that in a candidate. However, some of them are unworkable. For example, his proposal to offer incentives to small businesses willing to locate in Kennewick might run afoul of state laws.
But an exaggerated perception of what's possible if elected is a common shortcoming among rookie candidates -- easily cured by a little experience.
Britain had some clear ideas last year of what he would do differently than some of the other council members and has stayed that course.
He was critical of the council spending money on the carousel and helped hold the council accountable since his election.
He also has some clear ideas for the future of Kennewick, including pay-for-performance audits and family-wage job creation.
Boehnke is not a bad candidate, but he doesn't give us a reason to recommend voters unseat Britain.
Plunkett v. Trumbo
Disclosure: John Trumbo is a retired newspaper reporter and spent the past 13 years at the Tri-City Herald. His opponent is making his fourth run at the city council.
This was a hard race for us to call.
Roy "Bubba" Plunkett is a local boy. He graduated from Kamiakin High and works at the Hanford area. He's a likeable everyman who can relate to constituents.
He became interested in politics when he took a Scout group to the city council and realized how little discussion there was at those meetings.
He is fiscally conservative and compares taxpayer money to the widow's mite. Wise spending of taxpayer money is his main cause.
He attends council meetings and serves on the city improvement board. He is prepared to be elected and would be a good choice.
But this race has a Trumbo twist.
Lots of times, two candidates are similarly prepared or equal in some way. Not this one.
But only because there is no one else quite like Trumbo. His experience is unmatched and likely never to be seen again in a Kennewick council race. Investigative reporters are a rare breed.
If Trumbo is not elected, we don't expect him to spend his retirement in the garden, even though he loves to dig. If he is elected, we expect him to spend a lot of time digging into issues.
Trumbo may not especially be welcome on the council. At some point, he has probably ruffled everyone's feathers.
If the voters take a chance on him, he will shake things up. He covered city government for the paper. He is a hard worker who knows what makes a good council member.
The Herald editorial board recommends John Trumbo and Don Britain for Kennewick City Council.