Filing has closed for the Aug. 1 primary elections, and many Tri-Cities races are shaping up to be contentious.
This year’s election primarily covers offices for cities, school districts, port commissions, hospital, fire and water districts. There is one superior court race on the ballot to determine who will fill out the remainder of an unexpired term, but incumbent Judge Diana Ruff did not draw a challenger.
Check out this link for the latest on school board races.
Ballots are sent out for the Aug. 1 primary race by July 14, with a variety of municipal races on the slate.
The top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation. All the current races are nonpartisan positions. If a race does not draw a challenger, the candidate will appear alone on the Nov. 7 ballot and be tallied against any write-ins. Filing opens Monday, May 15, and closes Friday, May 19. To see a full list of the scheduled races by county visit bit.ly/AugustElection.
While most of the local races did not draw more than two candidates, they can serve as a preview for the general election on Nov. 7. If races draw no candidates, the county can open a special filing period.
Here are some of the races to watch in the Tri-Cities area this summer:
Incumbent Kennewick city councilor Jim Millbauer is facing a challenger in the District 7 At-Large position on the council.
Millbauer has found himself on the outs with the majority on the city council recently, over issues such as prayer in public meetings and ordinances targeting people experiencing homelessness.
He will face off against Ted Owens. He is a longtime General Manager of Fiesta Foods in Pasco.
District 5 councilman Chuck Torelli and District 6 councilman Brad Beauchamp are also looking to secure another term, but neither will face a challenger.
All three positions are for 4-year terms.
The majority of Richland’s city council will be up for election this year.
Richland’s charter calls for four of its council members to be elected every two years. The three that get the most votes for their spot serve four years, and the one with least votes will serve a two-year term.
This year has one difference because Ryan Whitten is running for the remainder of Benton County Commissioner Michael Alvarez’s term. Whitten replaced Alvarez after he joined the commission.
Mayor Pro Tem Theresa Richardson, Position 2, and D. Shayne VanDyke, Position 5, are running to secure another term. The Position 6 seat will be open as Terry Christensen has not filed for reelection.
VanDyke is facing a challenge from Gregery Levy, who is radiological controls training specialist at the 200 East Tank Farm at Hanford, and recently finished seven years on the code enforcement board, which conducts hearings about violations of the city rules.
Levy was one of three finalists to replace Councilman Phil Lemley in summer 2022. The seat ultimately went to VanDyke. He is now running for his first full term.
Whitten will be facing Joshua Short for the unexpired 2-year term. Short is a software developer and the owner of Short Industries. He holds a degree in Computer Science from Washington State University.
Richardson has faced backlash for her opposition to local drag shows, which some believe have fueled threats made against local businesses, after she encouraged constituents to “send a polite note” to the businesses.
Richardson will be facing off against Elizabeth “Liz” Vann-Clark, who has helped lead efforts to push back against the Richland council and Richardson specifically, after Emerald of Siam was vandalized ahead of an all-ages drag show.
In 2021 the Herald editorial board endorsed Vann-Clark, a former math teacher, over Semi Bird for the Richland school board. Bird’s seat is also up for reelection this year, even as he faces a recall effort, but he has not filed for reelection. He has instead opted to begin a 2024 run for governor.
In the race to replace Christensen, Kurt Maier, an IT engineer at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, will face Marc Newman, a local winemaker and the owner of Wine Social, and Kent Madsen, a sales executive who previously served as the city’s planning commission chairman.
Maier previously ran against Michael Alvarez in 2021.
Incumbent Jhoanna Jones is running in Position 1 against Allison Ball for the two year term.
In Pasco there are four seats on the city council up for election.
Zahra Roach did not file for reelection for the Position 7 At-Large seat. Pete Harpster and Kim Lehrman have both filed to run for it.
For the Position 2 seat, incumbent Joseph Campos will face a challenge from Charles Grimm.
Irving Brown is running to fill the unexpired term for Position 3, against Leo Perales. Brown was appointed to the seat last summer after Nikki Torres vacated it to embark on a successful run for state senate. Because it is an unexpired term, the winner will serve for two years.
The other Pasco council seats up this year are for 4-year terms.
In the race for the Position 5 seat, incumbent David Milne will face a challenge from James Czebotar.
West Richland has three seats on their council up for election.
David Fetto, Position 5, Fred Brink, Position 6, and Kate Moran, Position 7, have all filed for reelection.
Moran will be running against David Cole.
Port of Benton
Port of Benton Commissioner Christy Rasmussen is facing challengers to keep her District 2 seat.
Rasmussen will be up against former port director Scott Keller, who retired in 2019, and Cliff Dyer, owner of Sundance Aviation.
Rasmussen was appointed to the seat in Dec. 2021. She is a former educator and principal, and currently works as a training specialist for Energy Northwest. Keller had also been considered to fill that seat when Scott Larson retired.
Prosser has five seats up for reelection.
Maricela Sanchez, a Prosser physician has filed to run for the Position 4 seat, currently held by Bob Elder. Sanchez previously ran for a seat on the council in 2021, against Morgan Everett for the position 2 seat.
Sanchez has been vocal in the community about issues such as the cost of a proposed new city hall and police station, and bullying over a “Karen” effigy last Halloween that was believed to be targeted toward a community member.
More than 85% of voters cast ballots against the bond proposition last November.
Also running for the Position 4 seat is Jim Chesley. Elder has not filed for reelection.
Prosser Mayor Randy Taylor will be facing two challengers for reelection. Gary Vegar and Harold Lewis have both filed to run for the seat.
Position 7 incumbent Stephanie Groom also drew a challenger, Anna Kellogg. Position 5 incumbent Mary Ruth Edwards has not filed for reelection. Devin Matheny has thrown his hat into the ring for that seat, as has Wit Cellars co-owner Carolina Warwick.
Steven W. Becken, Position 6, has filed for reelection, but did not draw challengers.
Benton City has three council positions and a mayoral race.
David Sandretto, Position 3, Sarah Funk, Position 4, and Dyana Alcazar, Position 5, have all filed for reelection. No one has filed to run against them.
In the mayoral race, Len Burton will face off against Jake Mokler, to take over from incumbent Linda Lehman, who is not running again.
Connell will see a three-way race for the Position 5 seat on their city council. Incumbent KaTrina Kunkel did not file for reelection. Preston Hart, Patrice Hebel and Stephanie Hallman are vying for the seat. The top two vote getters will face off in November.
In the Position 6 race incumbent Shelly Harper will face David “Duey” Dixon.