Benton commissioner — re-elect Jim Beaver

The race for Benton County Commissioner in District 3 really isn't much of a race at all.

Incumbent Jim Beaver, a seasoned politician with a bundle of energy who can hardly sit still, is being challenged by Edgar Cousineau, a well-intended political novice who clearly hasn't done his homework.

Beaver, who served on the Kennewick City Council and as the city's longtime mayor before taking office as a county commissioner is well-versed in the workings of governments and can speak thoughtfully about budgets, public safety and priorities for the county.

Cousineau is an idealist who has been a jack of many trades, from a train engineer to an orchardist to a union carpenter. He knows the county has issues and is concerned about public safety. He wants a return to simpler times and believes his diverse work experience would help him adapt to the role of county commissioner.

In his time as a commissioner, Beaver has been frustrated by his inability to move issues forward. It takes a majority vote of the commissioners, and he had a hard time budging the long-held opinions of his peers, one of whom lost his last race for the seat and the other of whom is retiring.

Beaver sees it as a new era for the county, with commissioners who are more open to considering an idea's merits.

Public safety and economic development are priorities for both candidates, as they are for the community. Beaver knows how much it costs to operate the jail, and Cousineau thinks we should address that problem by keeping people from getting in trouble in the first place. While that may be an ideal goal, it is far from the reality of Benton County, where criminal justice eats up more than three-fourths of the budget.

We commend anyone willing to step forward and run for public office. A campaign is not an easy task. But Cousineau hasn't invested any time in learning about the issues surrounding the job he is asking voters to give him.

He hasn't attended a commission meeting or read a board meeting packet or looked at the budget.

We want Beaver to serve another term and see if he can finally put all that energy to use and effect positive change in Benton County government.

He'll have a new co-worker in either Sen. Jerome Delvin or Richland School Board member Rick Jansons. Either man will hit the ground running and work to make the county better, giving Beaver the opportunity he's been asking for since being elected to the commission.