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Newcomer challenges incumbent in search of third consecutive term

For incumbent Jim Restucci, running for re-election to the Sunnyside City Council is all about continuing with the work he says has been underway since he took office eight years ago.

Projects - past, present and future

"I want to stay on and continue the projects we started over the last two terms," says Restucci, who was named the city's mayor in January by his city council colleagues.

Projects past and present since Restucci, a chief technical officer with Axcess Internet, took office include internet broadcasting of city meetings, a website update, e-mail support for city council members, switching from a one-year to a two-year budget and collaborating with nearby cities for animal control.

Projects in the works that Restucci wants to see the city follow-through on include:

- Personnel policy

- Remodel of the fire station

- Modernizing the city hall phone system

- Working with the county on improving technology in the city

Vice chair of the Yakima County Gang Commission, Restucci said he is also concerned about crime in Sunnyside.

Public safety and the budget

"Public safety is a number one concern," he says. "I have never voted against public safety."

Restucci added, "I used the office of mayor to create the city's first public safety committee."

Restucci is co-chair of the Yakima Valley Mayor's Association, and a member of the YCDA (New Vision) board.

As a result, he says he is aware of the financial crunch both in Sunnyside and throughout the valley.

Here in Sunnyside, Restucci says there are steps the city can take to save money. Namely, he feels the city does not need two public works supervisors and that one of those positions should be eliminated from the budget.

Restucci also feels the city's building inspector position could be dropped from full-time status as a cost-saving move.

He also is in favor of exploring more local partnerships, such as working with Granger and Grandview to create a parks and recreation district. Restucci says he has also been in contact with Grandview to learn more about what that city did to revitalize its downtown area.

Restucci supports the review of Sunnyside's Police Department as a way to help the city in managing its costs.

"This is not a witch hunt, this is about finding ways that we can do better," he says.

Candidate Robert Van Billiard

Restucci's challenger is Robert Van Billiard, a driver for Elite Towing. Van Billiard's focus is economic growth and bringing Sunnyside's crime rate to an all-time low.

Van Billiard participated in this interview via e-mail because he was out of town.

"Not just managing our crime problem, but solving it," Van Billiard says of his priorities if elected. "Encouraging economic development by making this the safest and most vibrant city in Washington state."

Van Billiard also says the city needs to address its budget situation by "eliminating unnecessary costs." He says cost-saving measures could include reducing legal expenses and "eliminating unnecessary studies."

A resident of Sunnyside for the past two-and-a-half years, Van Billiard says he feels the city is "properly utilizing the funds appropriated for the police department."

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