Nearly ten elected positions, a highly contested recall and a decision on the future of Benton City will be decided in early August.
Thousands of ballots for the August 3 primary election were sent to voters last week in Benton and Franklin counties.
The election will cut 11 local races, including five Tri-City school board races and seven city council races. The first two voters will move on to the general election in November, with the remainder of the more than 100 seats being voted on in 2021.
In Benton County, voters will also decide whether Sheriff Jerry Hatcher can stay on.
For the residents of Benton City, they will decide whether to move from a strong form of government of mayor to a system of manager and city council.
In addition to the ballots, voters should receive in the mail a voter brochure containing the information provided by the candidates.
This primary vote is the culmination of more than a year of efforts to impeach the Benton County Sheriff.
After a judge approved the recall in August 2020 and the state Supreme Court unanimously approved the measure, supporters collected enough signatures to place it on the ballot.
Voters urged to oust him based on eight counts, including the misappropriation of 14 cases of county-owned ammunition found at his home and the attempt to intimidate officials and witnesses involved in investigations into his conduct .
Hatcher denies doing anything wrong and says the ammunition was used for training.
If Hatcher is recalled, the Republican Party would give county commissioners three candidates to choose from to serve the remainder of his term, which ends in 2022.
City of Benton Government
In Benton City, voters will decide whether or not to change the form of government.
Currently, Mayor Linda Lehman manages the city’s employees, including a city clerk, two general clerks, a code enforcement officer, three maintenance workers and a sewage plant operator.
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office manages law enforcement under contract with the city, and the Benton County Fire District 2 volunteer manages firefighting and ambulance services.
If the measure is approved, the city will switch to a system in which a city manager is hired by the city council to manage the day-to-day management of city operations.
Supporters say a series of controversial mayors is preventing the city from growing.
Opponents say the decision was made too quickly without enough studies.
Richland voters will cut two city council races and one school board race.
On city council, longtime city councilor and former mayor Bob Thompson is challenged by Richland business owners Chaune ‘Fitzgerald and Jhonna Jones.
Additionally, Marianne Boring faces three challengers, security professional Michael Luzzo, media producer Elijah Stanfield and former Habitat for Humanity CEO Theresa Richardson.
Boring was appointed to the board to replace Brad Anderson after his resignation in August 2020. The winner of the election will serve the remaining two years of his term.
For the school board, incumbent Heather Cleary faces two former teachers Audra Byrd and Danica Garcia.
Three Kennewick city councilors face multiple adversaries.
Mayor Don Britain will face homebuilder and businesswoman Gretl Crawford and Jacob Finkbeiner.
Councilor Bill McKay has three challengers – Uby Creek, Bryan Meehan-Verhei and Ken Short.
And Councilor John Trumbo has two opponents – Brandon Andersen and Jason Lohr.
In Kennewick, a stampede of school board candidates are trying to replace the two oldest board members – Dawn Adams and Heather Kintzley, who are not seeking re-election.
Four candidates filed to replace Kintzley. They include Gary Bullert, David Nielsen, Scott E. Rodgers, and Micah Valentine.
Three candidates applied for Adams’ post – Gabe Galbraith, James Langford and Erin Steinert.
Pasco voters have two races to decide in the primary.
There is a four-way race to replace outgoing mayor Saul Martinez, the city’s first Latino mayor and longtime council member.
Irving Brown, Steven Martinez, Leo Perales and Nikki Torres are vying for the job.
For the Pasco School Board, incumbent Amy Phillips is challenged by John Kennedy and Michelle Andres.
People can still register to vote in the primary by mail or online until July 26, according to the offices of the auditors.
Ballots must be stamped or deposited in a drop box by August 3. No postage is required.
Washington law allows voters to register in person and vote at a county election office before 8 p.m. on polling day.
In Benton County, people can register at the Benton County Polling Center at 2610 N. Columbia Center Blvd. in Richland.
In Franklin County, people can do this at the Franklin County Courthouse Election Office at 1016 N. Fourth Ave. in Pasco.
Drop boxes are available in Benton County at:
- 2610 N. Columbia Center Blvd. in Richland (new county polling center)
- 620, market street in Prosser
- 1009 Dale Ave. at Benton Town Hall
- 5600 W. Canal Drive in the Benton County Office Annex in Kennewick
- 210 W. Sixth Ave. at Kennewick Town Hall
- Badger Mountain Community Park on Keene Road in Richland
- Jefferson Park off Symons Street in Richland
- 3803 W. Van Giesen St. at West Richland Library
- 3100 Belmont Boulevard in West Richland stores
- 2710 Crimson Way in Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland
In Franklin County, drop boxes are available at:
- 2108 Route 84 at Franklin County Fire District Station 3
- 116 N. Third Ave. in Pasco at the electoral center
- 6600, boul. in Pasco at the HAPO Center (formerly TRAC)
- 1016 N. Fourth Ave. in Pasco at the Franklin County Courthouse
- 619 W. Clark St. in Connell at the Connell PUD store