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Bolan, Rodriguez vie for open Grandview sea

GRANDVIEW - Grandview City Council position 2 is up for grabs as incumbent Jan McDonald has chosen not to run for the seat this year.

Larry Bolan and Javier "Harv" Rodriguez are the two political candidates for the position following the primary elections held this past August, and both candidates seek to promote fiscal responsibility. They do, however, have opposing views on what that means.

Bolan, a retired engineer for Boeing, feels a cost analysis is necessary to running the departments within the city of Grandview.

"The city has itself involved in a lot of business...mainly cleaning water and sewers...garbage services are another concern," he shared.

Bolan said he feels the city is responsible for providing citizens the ability to improve infrastructure. It is also responsible for public safety.

The city should, according to him, contract work that can be performed by private contractors.

"Many smaller cities in the state use private companies for garbage pick-up," said Bolan, stating specific services currently provided by Grandview are not a part of the city's moral mission.

He feels private entities can provide such services at a cost reduction to the citizens of Grandview.

Rodriguez disagrees, stating he is familiar with contract processes.

"Private contractors are not going to look out for the best interest of Grandview," he said.

"They are looking to pay their employees and put money into their pockets," Rodriguez continued.

He said the city has employees dedicated to the best interests of the community. Those employees know the importance of the city budget, as well as quality service to those in Grandview.

"Their income is kept within the city instead of going outside of Grandview," Rodriguez added.

He credits the department heads for their diligence in keeping within a tight budget, as well. He said the directors of public works, parks and recreation and other services provided to the citizens are fiscally responsible and do well to keep costs down.

Rodriguez works for a Prosser winery and said he has seen first-hand there and as a former city council member the bidding process in action.

"You get three bids and the contractor with the lowest bid gets the job," he explained.

He said the contractors seek to provide the services at a cost they feel will provide them profit. "That doesn't mean the quality will be the same as what the city employees provide," said Rodriguez.

When he served on council before, he believed as he does now. He felt the city needed to revitalize its downtown corridor and improve neighborhoods.

"Although I haven't been involved in the efforts now underway, it fits with my beliefs," said Rodriguez, stating he believes the current city council, Mayor Norm Childress and City Administrator Scott Staples have done something great for the city with its Downtown Alive project.

"It is the job of the administration to look out for the best interest of the citizens," he explained, stating the project has become a reality through vigilance and the frugal mindset of those involved in obtaining grant funding.

"The department heads and administration have done well to find outside funding sources, lessening the burden on the tax payers," said Rodriguez, acknowledging not every merchant is going to be pleased with the construction phase of the downtown revitalization project.

Bolan said, "There should be caution with such a project."

He explained, citing Walla Walla as an example. He said Staples was successful in helping the merchants there land a Low Impact Development grant, but another project there was a "flop." That unsuccessful project, he noted, was not during the years Staples served as city administrator for the city.

Bolan said not all revitalization projects are successful in bringing new business to a city and he believes it is important to analyze data, checking the project's cost-effectiveness.

"It's nice to propose a project like Downtown Alive, but certain elements weren't at first considered...truck access and impact fees were not originally taken into account," he explained, stating the project is meant to make the community feel better, but it is yet unknown what the long-term effects will be.

Bolan is also concerned about the rates at which several employees in the city of Grandview are paid. He cited the lowest salary at approximately $65,000.

"Why must we mow lawns at $30 to $40 per hour?" he asked.

Because many of the employees are paid what he feels are substantial salaries he feels council must reconsider salaries, as well as benefits.

"Jon Myers forecast health insurance for employees to be more than $1 million...that's more than $20,000 per employee," Bolan said, stating he feels the income and benefits paid to city of Grandview employees does not "empower all citizens."

Rodriguez said the salaries and benefits might seem exorbitant, but those salaries have been awarded because of the number of years the employees have been working for the city.

"We have employees with a lot of experience...they have been working for Grandview for many dedicated years," he said.

Both men are seeking the council seat because they feel it is a citizen's responsibility to get involved in their community.

"I felt I was responsible for understanding how each department works and have visited with the department directors to obtain that understanding," said Bolan, noting he is impressed with the quality of dedication the directors of each city department exhibit.

His first taste of Grandview politics dates back to working as a campaign manager for former Mayor Helen Darr.

Rodriguez ventured into politics after being encouraged by several individuals.

"I have always wanted to be on the city council," he said, stating the extra encouragement from those around him led to his initial appointment in 2005.

"I believe I can make a difference and my example leads others to realize they, too, can help the community through volunteerism," said Rodriguez, adding, "This is a way for me to positively impact others, giving back to my community."

He said it is his hope that those in the community will see his example and register to vote.

"I don't care who they vote for...I just hope they will vote," Rodriguez stated.

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