GRANDVIEW - Two newcomers and one familiar face are vying to replace Grandview City Councilwoman Jan McDonald.
Newcomers to politics Larry Bolan and Ed Wagner will battle it out with former Grandview City Council member Javier Rodriguez to fill McDonald's seat. McDonald is not running for re-election.
Bolan moved to Grandview in 2001 and is a former mechanical engineer for Boeing. His biggest concerns for the city of Grandview are infrastructure and financial problems in the city's future.
His biggest asset he feels he can bring to the city council is time.
"I can devote more time to city issues than other council members," Bolan, who is retired, said.
Bolan also feels his education, he has two Bachelor of Science degrees and a Master's in engineering, will also benefit the city.
Bolan said some of the things bothering him about the city are what he calls wasteful spending.
He pointed to a city purchase of a 'Camel' truck. This piece of equipment allows city workers to clean and perform maintenance on the city's manholes and sewer lines. Bolan believes the city could have gotten by with the truck that was replaced.
He's also unhappy with the city buying and installing automatic meters. These meters allow a city worker to drive by a house and electronically read the meter without leaving the vehicle.
"They turned a one-minute job into a 30-second one," Bolan said.
Another sign of wasteful spending Bolan points to is when the city replaced a roof on one of the water towers due to corrosion concerns. Bolan feels instead of spending the money for a new roof the city could have just re-painted it.
It's areas like these where Bolan feels his education and background will come in handy. He did a lot of cost-analysis work for Boeing and feels he could do the same for Grandview.
If Bolan is elected to city council he says his first priority will be to get costs inline. One idea, he said, would be to cut the cost of living allowances to city employees and maybe even insurance. These are just considerations, he added.
He also feels the city spends too much money on the trees in Grandview. The labor costs, he said, could be lowered if the work was contracted from outside the city.
"A lot of money is being spent," Bolan said. "The mayor wants to make the city pretty but it's not being done right."
Bolan would also like to see a ban on fireworks, noting it scares pets and animals.
Bolan does support the city's efforts to build infrastructure and continue to improve the roads. He would also be onboard with adding sidewalks to certain parts of town.
"I feel Grandview can be a great place," he said. "It's a great place now but it can be better."
Rodriguez is looking to get back on the council after he was defeated in 2007. He spent two and a half years on the council after he was appointed to fill Norm Childress' spot when Childress was appointed mayor.
"I loved my time on the council," Rodriguez said. "I was never into politics but I really enjoyed it. It gave me a whole new perspective on city government. I found out what it takes to run a city."
Rodriguez grew up in the Sunnyside-Grandview area and graduated from Grandview High School. He has been employed at a Prosser winery for the past 23 years. Rodriguez also sells real estate.
He wants to get back on city council, he said, so he can help with the city's revitalization plan and help bring better homes to the city. For him, that's what it's always been about.
"To make any town better you have to tackle better homes and neighborhoods," he said. "If you make sure your house looks good then the neighborhood will follow."
His former experience on council is just one reason Grandview residents should vote for him, he said.
"It takes time to learn the procedures of council," Rodriguez explained. "I know how things work."
He feels he is committed and dedicated to Grandview and can be a valuable asset to the city. In his words, Rodriguez is ready to jump on board and be a part of the winning team.
Rodriguez also wants to get more citizens involved in the political process. His goal is to also get more Hispanics involved by getting them to become a part of the community and registering to vote.
Some worries Rodriguez holds is with the budget.
"Every year it's getting tighter and tighter," he said.
The current city government has done well to this point with the budget but Rodriguez feels something has to give.
He likes the idea of the city and the branch campus of Yakima Valley Community College working together to build a library, noting it's a team effort that will benefit the city.
To the voters Rodriguez encourages everyone to vote, regardless of who they vote for.
"It's about making Grandview a better place to live," he said.
Wagner is another newcomer to politics. The electrical designer came to Grandview three years ago from Illinois and loves the city. So much so he wants a voice in how it's run.
"This town has a lot to offer," Wagner said. "There are a lot of negatives going around, but I want to try and boost Grandview up, make it a place where people want to live and visit."
He mentioned the downtown revitalization project as a boon to the city. This project is expected to make the city more attractive to businesses and tourists. Such things as wider sidewalks and uniform building facades will help the city, Wagner said.
He is hoping the project will bring in new businesses, which will help to draw in tourism.
Being a part of the Grandview Neptunes swim team, Wagner is interested in bringing a new pool to Grandview.
He knows it's been tried before in the past but he feels a local effort by Grandview's citizens might work. By forming a non-profit organization Wagner believes grants and donations can go a long way to building a new pool for the city.
"The community would have a pool they want and it would help bring in revenue in town," he said. "We can expand from there."
He said there is a lot of funding available for projects such as these and feels a new pool would benefit everyone by bringing more revenue into town.
He does see a problem with gangs in Grandview but notes it is not a huge problem yet. He hopes to keep it that way. By bringing in activities for youths to do he feels could help keep them from turning to gangs.
He's not in favor of raising taxes unless it's absolutely necessary. Wagner said he would be in favor of cutting services and programs before raising taxes.
Wagner also touched on the appearance of Yakima Valley Highway in the downtown area.
"I would like to dress it up a little," he said. "First impressions mean a lot."
Wagner wants to get property and business owners involved and then get volunteers to help spruce up the community.
"If we can get volunteers to help beautify the area it won't cost the city and it won't be as expensive for the property owner," he said. "It's a win-win for everyone."
Wagner believes he is the right choice for position two because he is a people person and is easy to talk to.
"I can get people together to work for a positive outcome," he said.