Ballots are now in voters hands for an Aug. 1 elimination contest to decide which two candidates in each of two Walla Walla City Council races will proceed to the ageneral election in November

The Position 1 and Position 3 races each have three candidates. The top two vote-getters in each will get to stay in their nonpartisan races, with the winner to be decided when voters cast ballots again Nov. 7

In the Position 1 race, incumbent Jim Barrow is running against Riley Clubb and Jerrold Leon Phillips.

In the Position 3 race, the candidates are Myron Huie, Devon Wootten and Manuel Almanzar. The incumbent, Dick Morgan, announced earlier this year he was stepping down and a fourth candidate who filed, Lynn Knapp, has withdrawn her candidacy.

The two races are the only ones in Walla Walla and Columbia counties that will be contested in the primary. All others with one or two candidates who filed for elected positions automatically proceed to the general election.

For the Union-Bulletin’s primary election coverage, city reporter Andy Monserud developed and sent identical questionnaire to each of the six candidates in the two Walla Walla City Council races.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and trimmed to meet length requirements. Candidates are presented in alphabetical order.

Position 1

Jim Barrow

Why are you running for City Council?

I truly enjoy being a part of the life and vibrant flow of Walla Walla. Having spent my entire adult life in government service to my country, state, county and now our city, I would appreciate the honor of continuing in that ethic of service to others. Over the past generation since my family and I moved to what was then a sleepy, rural agricultural town, to today’s well-managed and forward-thinking powerhouse of Southeast Washington, we have grown to be recognized as the friendliest, and one of the most innovative small communities of Washington. Or, as we like to boast, “the Best-of-the-Best of the Northwest!” I want to keep being part of this dynamo we call home.

What skills, experience and leadership traits do you bring to the table, and how do you think they will help the city?

Twenty-eight years of Air Force leadership and management successes, 10 years on our Council and over 50 years of successful public service have given me a perspective not easily matched. A graduate of the Community College’s Leadership Walla Walla program, Oregon certification as a county clerk and an advanced certificate of municipal leadership from the Association of Washington Cities all attest to my dedication to improve my leadership abilities. My record employing these skills on our Council includes honoring commitments to improve infrastructure and roads, supporting the Aviary, rebuilding our pool, constructing a new police center, maintaining one of the state’s finest and most effective police and fire departments, taking effective action on downtown vagrancy while honoring needs of our unhoused neighbors, leading our establishment with our Italian sister city, and keeping a clear vision on the direction our community takes as it develops and prospers.

What are your top three priorities for the next four years in Walla Walla, and how do you propose acting on them?

1. We have an aging infrastructure that needs upgrading. In recent years, the Council has tackled this growing problem, having listened to you. We have collaborated with others to restore and maintain our city’s prosperity and ambience. Several tens of millions of dollars have been budgeted into repair and replacement of the hundreds of miles of water pipes, sewer systems and surface roads and sidewalks. The improvements, while ongoing, are impressive and obvious. Preserving the safety of our Mill Creek channel through town is another growing, significant concern. As the chair of the city’s budget committee I would strive to ensure these priorities continue to be honored.

2. Maintain and increase the momentum of economic development and vitality. We are widely recognized for our colleges, hospitals and health care providers, cultural opportunities, and art and music that rivals any city on this side of the mountains. We also enjoy a historic and diverse downtown environment, wineries and tasting rooms, restaurants, parks and recreation systems for our youth, hotels, new retail establishments, the “Town Center,” and public and private schools for pre-K through grade 12. We got there with your commitment, generosity and community leadership. Good things don’t “just happen!” They are planned and organized with care and good leadership. The Council, through its hire of an exceptional city manager and city attorney, has built one of the most effective and hardworking city leadership teams anywhere in Washington, evidenced and reinforced by the employee honors, government recognition and grants Walla Walla continues to receive.

3. Continue to seek solutions and improvements to challenges faced by merchants and our unhoused population. On the Council, I have sought citizen and merchant input as well as that of professionals in housing affordability, mental health and poverty care programs. We have struggled with providing humanitarian care and shelter. The Homeless Sleep Center seems to be working well, but isn’t enough. We need to place or obtain needed assistance for its residents. We also need to develop community consensus on a day center, which will become an acute need again in winter. This is not the city’s responsibility, so as chair of the Blue Mountain Action Council I have asked that BMAC take the lead in facilitating a communitywide dialogue seeking a facility and funding for such a center this summer and fall. The need cannot wait. Working together, we can do this.

Riley Clubb

Why are you running for City Council?

Not so long ago, some neighbors went beyond simply talking about “my problems” and “your problems” and instead started talking about “our problems.” They started talking about how we can accomplish something greater when we make the commitment to work together, to show up and help one another out, and to leave no one behind. I’m running for City Council because I believe we are still committed to working together and because we have a whole lot of work to do and I’m eager to get started!

What skills, experience and leadership traits do you bring to the table, and how do you think they will help the city?

Our community is dealing with some new problems that require new solutions, and new solutions come from new leaders.

That’s who I am: a leader from the millennial generation. I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs and business leaders. I was trained in the private sector and educated at one of the world’s top universities. I have built new, innovative products and taken “crazy ideas” all the way into real world results. I am dedicated to building a better Walla Walla and excited to do so with the people of this town.

What are your top three priorities for the next four years in Walla Walla, and how do you propose acting on them?

1. Make housing more affordable. There is no doubt in my mind we are facing a shortage of affordable housing in this city. Many if not most families are struggling to keep up with soaring costs, and the situation for families that rent is even more dire.

What we need is more than just a few acres of land for homes that only the very wealthy can purchase. We need multifamily housing, higher urban density and a more diverse range of housing types in the city so that everyone can afford to live comfortably indoors.

2. Attract good jobs for local families and support small business owners. As a business owner and entrepreneur in Walla Walla, I simply cannot understand why Council voted last December to create another regressive tax on business. We should be making it easier for small businesses, not harder. We can do this by investing in incubator spaces and local crowdfunding networks for entrepreneurs to experiment with new products in the market. We should also try to attract a more diverse range of businesses to our community. The Port has been doing a tremendous job recruiting new types of businesses that are creating high paying jobs. I plan to work closely with them to make it even easier for businesses of all types to create jobs in Walla Walla.

3. Protect our natural resources. What is your favorite thing about Walla Walla? For my family and many others, it’s the agricultural climate. We have been blessed with the privilege of taking some of the world’s best crops and serving them to millions of happy customers around the world. And we aren’t the only ones. Let’s face it: agriculture is the foundation of our economy and without it we would be in real trouble. So let’s protect our natural resources. Let’s invest in the energy efficiency of our homes, businesses and public buildings. Let’s harness the clean power of the sun with community solar projects and initiatives to help homeowners assess the solar potential of their own roof. Let’s expand our recycling programs and find new, innovative ways to save money and reduce waste. If you elect me, I will work hard to protect the natural resources of Walla Walla.

Jerrold Phillips

Why are you running for City Council?

When the government gets to the point where you feel it’s not doing justice for the community, you have to throw your hat in and get involved, and try to change it. You can’t just let it go on. And I think I’m at the point where I have enough years behind me, and I’ve seen enough of the lower-class and homeless people not being adequately represented.

What skills, experience and leadership traits do you bring to the table, and how do you think they will help the city?

I have experience, from my work history, that would help me make decisions in trying to guide the city into finding more work for people. I’ve done grocery work, I’ve worked in fast food, I’ve done hard labor in the construction industry and in a delivery truck. I haven’t had a lot of leadership positions, but I’ve stepped up when I needed to. Guiding people is a learning experience at any level. And I’m going to have to learn on the job when it comes to City Council. It’s new to me. Government has always been of interest to me, but I think that there’s a learning curve when you’re new to it at any level.

What are your top three priorities for the next four years in Walla Walla, and how do you propose acting on them?

1. My top priority would be the lower-middle and lower class and homeless people. Getting the word out to the city, and finding ways to make it easier for them to survive day to day. Because when there’s a tax levy out there, and you’re lower class, $30 extra on a property tax can be too much for some people. So I want to make it easier, to ease the burden on landownership, property ownership, and helping landlords be able to rent to people.

2. My second major priority will be continuing the city’s efforts on gang issues and drug issues. I’m well-versed in that issue, because I’ve been seeing that for a while now. There’s an epidemic, and it goes from the bottom to the top — the meth problems in this town are out of control, and people don’t see it at all. We need to find better ways to help people.

3. My next priority is getting back to the days when it wasn’t hard to find work here in town. It used to be, there were canneries, and if you couldn’t find work, it was an issue. It needs to diversify. How can the city help companies produce more jobs, and make it easier on the business owners, while not depriving the city of what it needs to continue to run?

Position 3

Manuel Almanzar

Why are you running for City Council?

In the short time I have lived in Walla Walla I have come to learn more about the community. I have always had a public servant’s mentality. After becoming a naturalized citizen last year, I realized that being a citizen means more than just residing, but contributing in a positive manner and helping the community grow and be better. My goal is to continue serving the public by working cooperatively with the rest of the Council and working for all of Walla Walla.

What skills, experience and leadership traits do you bring to the table, and how do you think they will help the city?

I’ve always tended to people’s needs regardless of who they are or where they come from. My primary goal, should the citizens vote for me, will be to do the same thing: putting the needs of all the citizens of Walla Walla before anything else. I have spent much of my life in public service. I know what it means to be good leader and, most importantly, to listen. Having worked both in the private and public sector I know how people sacrifice to earn what they have and how it matters that it is taken care of.

What are your top three priorities for the next four years in Walla Walla, and how do you propose acting on them?

1. It goes without saying that my first priority would be to take care of the public servants that are taking care of the citizens of the city. A safe city is what we all want. To do this, we need to take a hard look at who is performing these duties and supporting their efforts. I can say that after meeting with some of the department heads of the fire department and police department they have nothing but the best intentions for the public to include the visitors coming to enjoy all aspects of Walla Walla. I will work with the fire chief to look at ways to improve the city’s fire department and how to effectively come up with ways to better serve the citizens fire and medical needs. I will work with the police chief to find a solution to lower crime rates through community outreach programs.

2. Infrastructure would be another top priority for me. Supporting the departments that take care of our roads, water systems and landfill, to mention just a few. The reality is that our city has come on a precipice of growth and that some of our infrastructure is quickly becoming outdated and not able to keep up with it. I will work with the public works director to make sure that projects are continued to be communicated effectively to the public. Having spent some time with him I realized that he sees the needs of the city and wants to improve upon them as much as I do. Working on current projects while looking for various ways to fund them as well as future projects is key. I want to help him get our projects taken care of so our infrastructure will be able to support future growth and sustainability.

3. Last but certainly not least are our utilities and property taxes. I understand that the above items as well as many others take time and money. This is no different than projects in our home. I will work closely with staff and other Council members to explore different avenues to continue having Walla Walla work for you and continuing to attract businesses that fit the model of our city without hurting the longstanding ones that have made our city great. Ways of doing this would be to make sure that your property tax dollars and utility fees are used appropriately to continue taking care of all us. This while looking for outside sources of revenue to where if we do not have enough we first look to grants and other streams of revenue. I look forward to working with the staff and Council.

Myron Huie

Why are you running for City Council?

As a lifelong resident of Walla Walla and former longtime business owner, I have a strong desire to see our city succeed and grow.  Listening to and representing my fellow citizens and being proactively involved in the affairs and strategic planning of city government are my goals, because the decisions we make today shape Walla Walla’s future.

What skills, experience and leadership traits do you bring to the table, and how do you think they will help the city?

I have been involved in diverse civic organizations including Fort Walla Walla Museum (vice president), Enough Is Enough Citizen’s Action Group (co-administrator), Wings Over Walla Walla Air Show (co-executive director), Walla Walla City Road & Street Task Force Committee, Walla Walla School District’s General Advisory Council, Rotary Club and more.  I have served numerous times as delegate to the County Convention, twice as delegate to the Washington State Convention and have been a precinct committee officer.  My years of service on various local nonprofit groups and boards as well as my background in the business community speaks to my dedication to serving the people of Walla Walla.

What are your top three priorities for the next four years in Walla Walla, and how do you propose acting on them?

1. Streets and bridges.  Most residents agree the 144 miles of Walla Walla city streets need additional attention, but with limited resources, the city has only allocated 2.45 percent of the total 2017 budget to the street construction fund.  Unfortunately, streets are not the only pressing need.  There are several Walla Walla bridges in serious need of repair or replacement.   Yet there are some who would like to take from the street fund and reallocate that money for other far less critical expenditures.  My priority is to maintain or increase funding for streets and bridges.

2. Affordable housing and economic development.  The city and county need to strengthen their partnership efforts to seek and encourage more low- and moderate-priced housing.  Without affordable housing, our community will not be able to have economic development and job creation for our residents.

3. Affordable utilities.  A good rule of thumb: Not more than 3 percent of the average household budget should go to utility billing (water, sewage, garbage).  I believe the City Council must uphold the expectation of these city services at a reasonable cost.

Devon Wootten

Why are you running for City Council?

I’m looking forward to spending the next 40 years or so in Walla Walla; I want to give back whatever I can to this amazing city.

What skills, experience and leadership traits do you bring to the table, and how do you think they will help the city?

I’ve lived all over the country and this experience has exposed me to a wide variety of ideas and ways of looking at the world. I’ve learned to be patient, to listen, and not to dismiss the point of view of those whose positions and opinions seem different than my own. From my experience attending City Council meetings, I believe that knowing what questions to ask (and really listening to the answers) is a key part of being an effective part of city government.

What are your top three priorities for the next four years in Walla Walla, and how do you propose acting on them?

1. Based on the level of citizen turnout at recent Council meetings, I have little doubt that the issue of homelessness is on a lot of people’s minds. I firmly believe that every individual deserves respect and that we, as a community, have a responsibility to help the less fortunate among us. As a Council member, I would work for a long-term strategy that has the buy-in of as many voices as possible. There is no perfect solution, but we’re in this together.

2. I want to see Walla Walla keep its focus on community services. I know we have an economy that is increasingly geared toward tourists, but I don’t want our local government to forget that the actual residents of Walla Walla make our city an amazing place to live. The recent opening of the Memorial pool is a great example of the good that a local government can do for its citizens.

3. With the departure of Allen Pomraning, we’re losing an administrator with years of institutional memory. Those are big shoes to fill. Should I be elected, I want to focus on listening to as many Walla Wallans as possible. I see the Council as the primary connection between the people of this city and our local government — I want to make sure I pay attention to the people who have chosen me as their representative.