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Farmer, Warren challenge incumbent for Sunnyside Council seat

Three candidates are in the race for the Sunnyside City Council District Two seat come the primary election next month.

Thomas Warren, Jesse Hernandez and Mike Farmer each have their own distinct reasons for running for the seat.

Hernandez, a financial analyst, currently holds the post and was appointed following Bruce Epps' resignation.

"The main reason I wanted to be on council is to build community pride and get people excited about living here again," Hernandez said. "There are a lot of things happening to do that right now and I'd like to be involved and continue that effort."

Farmer, who previously served two terms on council, said that the current council's "failure to look out for the citizens of this city" compelled him to throw his hat into the ring.

He's also concerned about taxpayer dollars. "When I left council in 2006, between the equipment reserve fund and general reserve fund I think we had $2.7 million.

"The money's gone and what do we have? Two less police officers, no parks and recreation for our kids. We have a shiny new fleet of trucks (for public works)."

Farmer, who owns Bob's Auto Clinic, said the city's perceived inability to apply resources where they will do the most good and the council's perceived failure to fully understand resolutions and ordinances they've passed has also compelled him to run for office.

He said the current council's inability to understand the ordinances and resolutions is evidenced by the stormwater (uproar) and the growth management plan. Of the plan, he said, "They've had to come back, look at (it), rescind (it) and say, 'We'll do it right this time'."

Warren, who's lived in Sunnyside for a little over three years and works as a public services assistant at the Sunnyside library, said he decided to run because the council seems so divided.

"I think there's too much factionalization in the current council. I think it's hurting the city with the firings and resignations. They both were bad for the city," Warren said, adding that he already had a desire to be involved in local politics so he decided now's the right time to run.

Hernandez, who's lived in Sunnyside for 26 years, said he's an ideal candidate for city council because he's not quick to make judgments. "I think things through. I have to look at issues from all angles, not just one. I have to look at how things are going to affect everybody, not just a particular group."

Farmer said people should vote for him because he's a firm believer in common sense.

"I bring a mind full of common sense," said Farmer. "I am fiscally conservative, I understand what (resolutions and ordinances) I'm passing and I don't take staff's word for anything."

Farmer added, "In the eight years I served on council, we never increased taxes. I never voted to increase fees. I put dollars into resources that made the city more efficient, i.e. (getting) mobile computers in police cars and we changed the way the police dispatch was run. We had police officers dispatching."

Warren said he's a good candidate because he brings "common sense, objectivity and neutrality" to the table.

Warren said, "I'm an alternative to the more established politicians. I don't have any political loyalties locally so I won't be hindered by that."

Hernandez said the best course of action for the city right now is to stay the course.

"What we're doing is bringing in an experienced interim city manager. That is going to go a long way toward smoothing things out," Hernandez said.

Farmer said, "At this point in time we have no choice but to hire an interim. We have no personnel qualified to act as interim city manager." Farmer said the council hired Swansen, so it was their responsibility to work with him. "I've talked to a couple council members that were (justifying it). It doesn't make sense giving him only 11 months. I don't believe council sat down with Eric and said, 'This is what we want to accomplish. Do it.' I don't think this was ever done."

Warren said he feels the city should hire a finance director, city attorney and city manager, but that the council should also learn from its mistakes to "try and prevent that situation from happening again." He feels the city shouldn't fire people so abruptly or do things that provoke resignations.

Warren said, "There needs to be more open communication and significant issues need to be brought up before they come to a head like this."

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