There are not a lot of contested races on the ballot in Franklin County, but there are a couple of interesting ones.
County clerk is one of those races.
First off, we must say that we have no regard for the political persuasion of candidates who run for county offices. In fact, it seems strange to us that these are partisan races. But that is for the state to dictate.
So we find it only mildly interesting that Mike Killian changed parties from being a long-standing Democrat to a wet-behind-the-ears Republican shortly before the election season this year.
Interesting, yes, “Voteworthy,” no.
We are, however, concerned that an elected official would try to run an office from halfway around the world. We said as much in an editorial on Dec. 11, 2011, shortly before he was deployed to Kuwait with the Naval Reserves.
We respect those who are willing to serve in our country’s military, and we understand that reserve personnel have no control over when they are called up to active duty.
We do not, however, feel like it is fair to the citizens of Franklin County to pay the full-time salary of more than $80,000 for an absentee elected official.
Yes, the office continued to function while he was overseas. And, yes, he was within legal rights to keep both jobs.
We just don’t think it was a good idea.
And although he — and certainly his staff — did an adequate job while he was gone, we have some concerns. One example that makes us question if he was really putting in full-time effort to both jobs while he was in Kuwait is that he turned in a budget with very few changes from the year before.
Anyone who deals with budgets knows that year-to-year operations are different — sometimes significantly.
In this case it was not a huge deal. It didn’t cause a financial crisis. But it does reinforce our concern that Franklin County residents didn’t get what they paid for that year.
For us, it’s enough to tip the scales in a close race.
Killian’s opponent is Bryan Pugh.
Pugh is a farmer and has worked as the Benton County deputy clerk, a paralegal in a law office and an adjunct instructor for Columbia Basin College. He ran unsuccessfully for Benton County Clerk in 2006
Killian is a 14-year incumbent and has 24 years experience as an administrator and a member of the United States Navy Reserves.
Both men are qualified for the job. Both men have a vision for the future of the office. We are making our recommendation more on what has happened in the past.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Byron Pugh for Franklin County clerk.