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Benton County City of Richland Council Position 5

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

    Phillip R. Lemley

  • Lisa Thomas

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) 713-3851
Town where you live Richland
Experience (300 characters max) Richland City Council for 10 years ,never missing a meeting. Liasion to 15 local and 5 State Boards and Commissions, Board of Directors of 5 local non profits. Volunteer every Sunday at our local Hospital and Food Bank every Monday. 100% of my time is spent in serving our Community, County, State
I have been elected to this position three times. I have served as Mayor Pro Tem in the past. I have spent nearly 40 years working in project, operations and program management for the largest corporations around the world and across the USA. I have owned several small businesses. I have experienced numerous cultures, religions and governments where I have lived and worked. I understand that we are all different, have different needs and wants, likes and dislikes. I know that no one person has all of the right or wrong answers and that leading by example, considering other view points and keeping an open mind is the key to good communities, great cities and strong states. I have learned that doing what is best for the majority, keeping the economic engine strong of whatever entity that you are a part of is the key to success. We should not listen to the loudest voice, most outsized talent, agenda driven or glory seeking individual or group. Teamwork builds partnerships.
My vision is that we continue to make Richland the great place it is to live, work, play and retire. We want to continue to grow responsibly, take care of our infrastructure, promote even more new businesses, continue to create a great quality of life, further develop our great parks and reaction facilities and keep our cost of living as low as possible, it is the envy of most of the state now. We will continue to enjoy all of the family friendly events that take place in our community every week especially in the spring, summer and fall. I would hope that we will create even more wintertime activities in the future. Our community enjoys a substantial revenue generation from the Hanford site and Agricultural Industry that will continue to get even better with thoughtful and cooperative efforts from our great business community, our neighboring cities, the county and the state. We must stay positive and not let negative, toxic and personal agendas sideline us from the ultimate goal.
Negativity, personal agendas, small thinking, not working together, looking out for just ourselves, personal attacks, any behavior that does not accentuate the positive. Some thrive on the negative. People and or groups that want their issue fixed regardless of the consequences. If a city is not growing then it is dying. Not wanting progress, satisfied with the status quo and resistant to change destroys momentum. Momentum and timing is important to the success of any undertaking, the building and maintaining of a city or going to the moon. We need partnerships, coalitions and relationships with Benton County and the State of Washington as well as the Federal Government. Not building those important relationships will be a huge obstacle. Removing those obstacles will contribute to continued growth that will make us a force to be reckoned with in all areas, State and Federal. Partisan declarations do not help because we need that help from both sides of the isles in Olympia and DC.
We here in Richland are doing a good job caring for our environment. We are working on switching our garbage truck fleet over to natural gas lessening the diesel emission problem. Our area is approaching a threshold of ozone contamination, electric busses at Ben Franklin Transit, capturing and selling the methane gas at our land fill and building more energy efficient homes and businesses will help to lessen the impact on our environment. If we are not proactive there could come a time that difficult choices will be mandated by regulation. We must work for thoughtful future regulation. Encouraging people to ride those electric buses, providing more bike friendly paths, encouraging our work forces to share trips, increasing van pools, all will contribute to cleaner air. Planting more trees and taking care of those we have now will also help. Changing behaviors will be the most difficult goal to taking care of our environment for future generations, but it is worth every effort.
Our infrastructure is in good shape. We constantly upgrade and repair our utility systems of water, sewer and electric, especially our water treatment plant, sewer facility, electric grid and substations. Our land fill continues to grow with new technology and cause less pollution. We are building a new Automated Metering System for our energy users that will create more efficiency providing data that can help customers use less energy. We are in the process of creating solar farms in the future as well. Our roads make up a huge part of our infrastructure and we have created a Public Facility District that will fund ongoing maintenance and preservation of our roads. We continue to upgrade neighborhoods with Local Improvement Districts that build new sidewalks, curbs and gutters. Our overhead electric transmission system of poles is very old, some 60 - 70 years old, we are changing those out now and the underground electric cable system is being upgraded as well.
Our first problem is getting our citizens to understand that there are homeless here. It is not as pervasive as some places and not as visible. Affordability of housing is not as bad either here, but we can still do better with more affordable apartments and townhomes. I believe we do a good job of temporary housing in supervised public and private temporary shelters, some paid for by local charities and others by state, local and federal programs. I sit on a board that does just that Benton Franklin Community Actions Connections. All of these programs must be working to fill temporary voids and find ways to help families and individuals that want help to build permanent solutions. I do not believe that we have many that are totally unsheltered. All of these solutions cost lots of money. Spending lots of money only, will not solve this. Behavior changes must be considered as much as anything. Can we do better, of course we can and we will, anything is possible if we work together.
While not everyone agrees with the current state and federal laws on immigration, our city must still follow them. There are recourses and options available for those citizens who disagree with the laws and they can work towards changing them if they so choose. We desperately need temporary work permits for our growing agriculture industries. Immigrants make up a substantial part of this and many other industries across our state because of Washington State being number two in Agricultural production. Creating and maintaining programs that facilitate the ability of cities and towns to enforce laws that do not conflict with those state and federal laws, while keeping in mind the contribution that immigrants provide to our farmers is a delicate task, but one we need to master. No one city can do this alone, it must be a collective project that considers the laws, the needs and the cost of doing nothing or doing it wrong.
I believe that we communicate as well as can be expected. Typically at any public event there is more staff than public, unless it is a hot button issue. Still only a small amount of people attend even those. I have tried to hold neighborhood meetings in the past, rarely is it successful because most people are too busy or simply not interested. We have very few people attend our council meetings, many times no one at all. We televise every meeting. We post in the media every special event. Could we do better, yes and we will by encouraging people to get involved. We have numerous boards and commissions that are manned by the public. This is a great way to see how our council/city manager form of government works. There are constant opportunities. We need to listen to all concerns, but we cannot fix everyone's problem. What we must do is do what is best for the majority and that economic engine, the City of Richland, not alone, but the council as a whole. This is a two way street.
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