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Barrett challenges Souders for Position #1 council seat

GRANDVIEW - Mary Barrett of Grandview will challenge incumbent Joan Souders for the position #1 seat on the Grandview City Council in November's election.

This is Barrett's second attempt at securing a seat on Grandview's council. She ran in 2007 against Jan McDonald and Larry Bolan, but lost in the primaries.

This time around Barrett said she chose Souders as her opponent because she didn't want to make this year's position #2 race a four-person affair, instead, she's taking her chances with a one-on-one campaign against Souders.

Barrett said she has been a resident of Grandview for the past 27 years and has attended every city council meeting for the past three years.

"I've learned a great deal about city operations," she said.

Barrett also is highly active in the community, most recently serving on the coordination committee for the city's centennial parade this past summer.

The challenger takes great issue with the lack of industrial growth in the city.

"We need this tax base to keep our current expense fund healthy," she added.

Barrett claims it is this lack of industrial growth that has forced many residents to abandon Grandview and move away. She said if elected to council she will work with local legislative representatives to attract industrial investors, something she feels the current council has not done.

"Keeping our workforce here benefits everyone," she said.

She also believes that a stronger partnership with the branch campus of Yakima Valley Community College would help the college grow and expand. With the growth of the varied fields of study YVCC offers she feels corresponding businesses and industries will materialize in Grandview to accompany such careers.

Barrett is against any talk about building a community center to replace the one the city sold to YVCC recently. Instead, Barrett would like to see the city purchase a building downtown and refurbish it. Money is what worries her the most.

"If a community center is built will we be able to afford to staff it," she asked?

Barrett said she is happy with current police staff levels but is appalled the city's police department didn't receive any stimulus money.

"We need to work with legislators to get help," she said. "A large amount of the general budget is spent on police."

Barrett added that she would like to see the staff levels stay the same and not vanish.

She said she feels she brings more of a long-term perception of what Grandview will be like down the road than Souders does, adding she has more time than the current councilmember to research any issues that face the city.

She also promises not to just go with the flow and agree with other council members.

"I will disagree with other council members with issues involving the city," she predicted.

Souders, who is running for her second term on the council, was appointed to her seat in 2003.

"I believe Grandview is on the cusp of becoming an even greater city to live in than it already is," she said.

She said there are two things she really wants to tackle if elected again. The first is to continue to work on community block watch programs in the city. Her goal is to help keep Grandview a safe community.

Her second goal in her next term is to find a solution to the city's aging swimming pool.

"What's going to happen to it," she asked?

She admits that with the current state of the economy, a solution to the pool problem isn't a top priority but she still wants to see something done about it. The most recent renovations to the pool were just a band-aid, she said, and Souders is looking for a more permanent fix.

All-in-all, Souders thinks Grandview is in good shape and moving in the right direction. She spoke of the downtown revitalization project getting ready to commence. This will bring wider sidewalks, new water and sewer and a more uniform look to the downtown area.

Souders said the goal of the revitalization project is to make the downtown more appealing and pedestrian friendly. She hopes this will help businesses to decide to come to Grandview.

"We're sitting on the edge of coming alive," she said of how the project will affect Grandview.

As for a new community center to replace the senior center the city recently sold to YVCC, Souders said it is important to have a facility everyone can use. She is not opposed to having the city purchase a downtown building and refurbishing it but she isn't against building a new structure either. She just wants the wisest decision to be made.

What's nice, she said, is that the city has the money it received from the sale of the senior center in a reserve fund and it will be used in any decision made by the council.

As for industrial development, Souders believes the downtown revitalization project will help attract businesses to town, which will in turn attract bigger businesses.

She said the city works with any company to try to get them to come to the city. She touted the recent expansion of a trailer company in Grandview.

"We worked closely with the company to make that happen," she said.

If elected again, Souders promises to maintain her past approach to city business. And that is to make solid, sound and sensible leadership decisions.

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