Tri-City Herald: Goodbye and hello to our reader representatives

Since mid-summer, we have had the pleasure of having Jason Hogue of Pasco as our reader representative, and as much as we would like him to stay, his stint is over and it is time to add someone new to the Tri-City Herald Editorial Board.

We are excited to welcome Heather Unwin. She starts her volunteer, six-month commitment next week.

This page is devoted to commentary, and our editorials strive to provide guidance and stimulate debate on various local, state and national topics. The names on top of this page gather together and strive for consensus before editorials are written. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t, but everyone on the board can, at the very least, acknowledge why a certain position was taken.

The idea of including someone from the community in those debates started four years ago with the thought that we could use a fresh, rotating voice on the edit board. Although we have different backgrounds and interests, we all have been involved in newspapers for a long time. Adding an outside perspective keeps us from becoming too insular and getting entrenched in our attitudes.

Our past reader representatives have done such a great job, it is hard to imagine going back to a time when we didn’t have one contributing to the conversation.

Our discussions can be spirited, and stepping into that foray can be a bit daunting. But Hogue handled it with thoughtfulness and an affability that made him a great fit.

His contribution was extremely valuable, and we will miss him. To find out what he thought of his experience with the edit board, read his column Sunday in the Forum section.

As an agent with American Family Insurance in Pasco, his knowledge of the insurance industry was especially helpful when we discussed health care issues. He is active in the community and is heavily involved in the Young Professionals of the Tri-Cities, and his connection to the younger demographic was an asset.

He brought smart and reasonable comments to the board as well as a jovial spirit. He also was reliable, attentive and up to speed on current events.

But a new year brings opportunities, and we soon will be breaking in a new recruit. Heather Unwin is involved in the wine industry and is executive director for the Red Mountain AVA Alliance. She shows a promising enthusiasm to her new role on our edit board. In the past, she has worked for Time Warner and CompuServe and ran her own marketing consulting firm. Her husband is Stephen Unwin, a manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and they have two grown sons.

She is an advocate for the community and is interested in economic development. We are delighted to have her join us for the next six months and look forward to hearing her thoughts on the many issues we discuss every week.