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Benton County City of Kennewick Council Position 5 At Large

The city council sets the general policies of the city, which are implemented by the city manager and staff. One of council's main duties is the adoption of policies and the enactment of the city's annual budget. City council sets fiscal policies and approves all spending , whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for city employees.

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  • Candidate picture

    Chuck Torelli

  • Candidate picture

    Chariss Warner

Biographical Information

What experiences have you had that qualify you for this position?

How would you describe your vision for your city?

What are the obstacles in the path of achieving your vision?

What do you think is your city/town’s role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment?

What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastructure?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?

How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

How would you propose the council communicate with the citizens of your city or town?

Phone (509) 405-2156
Town where you live Kennewick, WA
Experience (300 characters max) Appointed to Kennewick City Council Jan. 2019 to present. Kennewick Planning Commissioner 2017-2019. Thirty-three years of leadership/Manager experience at Hanford, including thirty years at the Plutonium Finishing Plant. Served in the U.S. Navy 1972-1976 – including two tours to Vietnam.
Policies, Not Politics. It’s more than a slogan, it’s a philosophy of governance. Three years ago, when I became interested in the administrative mechanics of governance, I witnessed the positive effects of Policies, Not Politics. For six months I saw the council work with each other to resolve problems. In 2017, I was appointed to the planning commission and again I saw the benefits of Policies, Not Politics. I was part of the rewrite of the city Comprehensive Plan, which defines land use. I was part of the approval process for Vista Field, Columbia Gardens, Revitalization of Downtown etc. On Kennewick City Council, I have been part of the policy processes for replacement of Zone 2 water reservoir, support for Fire Station 6, and adding School Resource Officers to our middle schools. That is the power of Policies over Politics. Policies are about solutions; Politics are about blame.
“Policies, Not Politics” encourages Economic Development by promoting business and industrial expansion, continuing to support visionary projects like Vista Field and Columbia Gardens, maintaining and investing in our city infrastructure including roads, parks, water treatment; and collaboration with other agencies such as the Port of Kennewick, Benton County and Benton-Franklin Council of Government. Safe Neighborhoods are achieved by adequately funding the hiring and training of police, firefighters, and emergency services as well as ensuring first responders have the equipment they need. Civic Engagement relies on making sure the City Council is open and transparent to the public. We need to encourage residents to attend and participate at council meetings as well as provide mentorship for those wishing to engage with city governance. Citizen academies, speakers for civic organizations, internships with residents, could all lead to more engagement.
Over the last couple of years ideology has replaced ideas. Expertise is dismissed when it conflicts with opinions. The worse part of “politics instead of policies” is that the desire to "win" becomes the goal and is conflated with the "will of the people". I saw the effects of the politics over policies in Vietnam. I saw it again during the thirty-four years I worked at Hanford. While at the Plutonium Finishing Plant, mainly in managerial roles, I saw budgets become politicized which had negative impacts on our ability to complete the goals of environmental cleanup. It also happens when cities challenge state and federal laws. The effect of a city passing a resolution against a state or federal action is minimal. Individual citizens calling their elected representatives often carries more weight than city resolutions that are viewed as gestures. City governance needs to remain anchored to the issues over which the city has control.
Kennewick adheres to Federal, State and County regulations and encourages responsible stewardship of the environment. We are primarily a residential and business-based community with little industrial impacts. Whenever possible, the city assists local business in meeting environmental regulations. An example is the pre-treatment facility that supports the wineries at Columbia Gardens. The pre-treatment facility represents a public-private partnership that enables the wine makers to safely use existing water treatment systems once their effluents are pre-treated. Another example of environmental stewardship is the waste pickup contract which has provisions for recycling.
The city does an excellent job of maintaining the city-wide infrastructure: roads, walkways, water supply and sewer services. Kennewick received kudos for their handling of this year’s blizzards. Improvements could include more private/public partnerships at places such as roundabouts. These partnerships can reduce long term infrastructure costs. Much of the software used to run city services is over twenty years old. With ransomware becoming more prevalent, cybersecurity and off-site backup are essential for secure services. The role of city council is to enable our residents to enjoy the highest quality of life possible at the most reasonable cost available and that includes web-based infrastructure.
We can’t help the homeless with wishes. We can help the homeless with work. What I mean by that is that our city council, city staff, and our charitable organizations have a long history of coming together to face tough challenges. In my time I've seen that happen; from the establishment of My Friends Place for homeless teens, to how we've dealt with our homeless population at large. We are making a positive impact by working together. In addition, when we invest in infrastructure and resource development, we bring in more jobs and housing opportunities for everyone in our community. Finally, Kennewick's motto is “Leading The Way” and in tackling this crisis we have an exciting opportunity to lead creatively. We can see that in our zoning for tiny homes and other affordable housing. This problem can't be solved by politicizing it, but our policies as supported by our community, are working and will continue to do so as we tackle this challenge in ways that benefit all of us.
This is an issue that is outside the control of the city. We cannot pass laws that conflict with existing state or federal laws. As individuals we can make our opinions known to our elected representatives. As a city, we need to understand our role in the national debate. As it currently stands, the city has little impact with immigration issues. The city does not maintain jail facilities and thus has limited contact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Our police department has an excellent reputation within our community and works hard to maintain it. In short, asking the city to have an official stand on immigration, in whatever context, is like having the city take a stand on Department of Defense spending. It’s outside of our expertise and is an exercise in politics, not policies.
Kennewick is just starting to use CityView to record and televise council meetings and workshops. There is also an app that is available, as well as the city website. Advertisement in the local newspaper meets legal requirements but tends to get buried in legal notices. Active engagement with the community could be enhanced with more frequent citizen academies and providing a speaker bureau for community groups and educators. Openings for commissions and boards need advertised in a more aggressive manner rather than relying on just the web site/app.
Phone (509) 405-2341
Town where you live Kennewick
Experience (300 characters max) Executive Leadership & Director of Ministries at Tri-City Union Gospel, Paraeducator for Kennewick School District for six years. Board member of Community in schools,Coalition Against Huma
My education is in Nonprofit/Public/Organization Management and Chemical Dependency Counseling. I have participated in the building of the Tri-City Union Gospel Missions New Men's facility. I am currently serving on the board of Communities in Schools of Benton/ Franklin counties, Kennewick Historical preservation commission and the Tricities Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

This has helped me to learn the importance of working as a collective for positive change. But, what really qualifies me for this position is not all the committees, boards or government agencies I have been a part of. It is the fact that that I care about our city and the people in it. I care to learn, listen and act in the best interest of those I serve. I will represent this community well.
I want to make positive and lasting change for Kennewick by focusing on building a stronger sense of community for all residents, on creating job opportunities that will empower families to succeed, and on public safety. Police, fire and medical responders must be our first priority as Kennewick experiences high-risk problems such as homelessness and drug/mental health issues. I support compassionate and smart solutions to these problems, not needle exchanges. Kennewick is a growing community with many different social-economic-cultural faces. I value all our residents and will work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity and means to contribute to our sense of being a true community of “one out of many.” I want to serve on the council not as a politician but for the benefit of all who live here.
The obstacles that I currently see is the lack of diverse ideas and questions in our city government. We are in an exciting time with this current election cycle, because many new faces including myself are interested in being part of local government. Finding new and cost-effective ways to approach our many growing pains in Kennewick would be an obstacle but, as a united council, we can move forward with addressing the public concerns with affordable housing, public safety, and job growth.
I believe that Kennewick is moving forward with this issue. Eastern Washington is already a leader in the environmental movement with our nuclear and hydropower. We naturally reduce carbon in our environment by supporting our local agriculture. I believe we can look at other ways as a community improves by involving our local citizens in using renewable energy, controlling waste, and managing water usage at home.
We have an aging infrastructure which is in need of updating and repair. Kennewick is currently in the process of updating a water main and storage facility. They are also focusing on asphalte restoration projects. These are all positive steps that we need to continue into the next few years to keep the quality of life we all have come to enjoy.
I have over ten years of experience with the homeless population here in the Tri-Cities. The issues we are seeing in Kennewick are less of a homelessness problem, it is mental health/drug problem. In the Tri-Cities, we have a hybrid of an urban/ Rural homeless population and with that many do not want to live within the social norms. We have to provide adequate services for this population while placing enforceable rules to propel them off of our streets. We need detox services. We need mental health services for all ages, locally. We need affordable housing, job opportunities.
As a city, I would vote to not become a sanctuary city. I believe we need to focus on building our up for the current population before we offer placement for those seeking services and support.
I believe in open communication. I love the fact that the council members have their phone numbers on the cities webpage, and the council meetings will soon be on social media. But, I also think making the email address public and finding other avenues to engage those we serve is key. I plan on keeping my facebook page active as well as other social media platforms in order to hear peoples opinions about current issues.