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Grandview Council hopefuls want open dialogue with citizens

GENERAL ELECTION NEARS

GRANDVIEW – There are five citizens whose names will be on the General Election ballot for the Grandview City Council position 4 seat, currently held by Mike Everett.

Everett is on the ballot for Jesse Palacios’ position 6 seat. He is running unopposed because Palacios decided not to seek re-election.

Mary Barrett, Pat Bratton, Gaylord Brewer, Betty Garza and Joe Jensen all want to serve the community with the idea of being more open to the needs of the citizens.

All five say they want to make a positive difference in the community they call home, providing more opportunities for citizens to learn about the decisions being made. They also want citizens to have the ability to express their desires to council.

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Mary Barrett

Mary Barrett has been a Grandview resident for 34 years, has raised a son in the community and has three other times been a candidate for the Grandview City Council.

She said she enjoys her work, maintaining the flowers in the downtown corridor and is a volunteer for the city’s beautification awards program.

The progress she has seen in the community is something Barrett said she would like to continue.

In the past 10 years, she said, there have been many accomplishments. There are better streets because of a $20 license tab fee, industries have been growing and there are new dining and shopping opportunities.

“These are all things people wanted,” Barrett said.

As the city grows, she said the city of Grandview’s revenues will also need to grow because improvements and expansions can only be accomplished with additional monetary resources.

“Every city has a wish list…I believe those wishes should be brought to the voters – primarily the need for improvements to the pool and police station,” said Barrett.

She said the public’s opinions matter to her and she wants to get more input.

“I want more meetings between staff and citizens, giving the citizens a place to express their concerns and needs,” Barrett said.

“Council members need to be accessible and open to hearing from taxpayers.”

The municipal pool, she said, is a big concern for her. Barrett said there have been too many groups and committees evaluating its age and the need to replace it.

“I’m tired of it dangling out there…we should just have a regular pool…not with a dome, not having it open all year, not anything extravagant,” said Barrett.

As a part-time city employee, she said she sees a need for council members to visit more often with city employees.

“Currently, Jesse (Palacios) is the only council member I see visiting with public works employees on a regular basis,” Barrett said.

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Pat Bratton

Pat Bratton, a longtime advocate for her neighbors, said she is known for being outspoken. At the age of 84, she feels it is important the city council thinks about the needs of all citizens in the city of Grandview.

“The city council has seen me many times,” she said.

For more than two decades, Bratton has called Grandview her home. She moved to the city when she married longtime friend Walt Bratton Sr.

After years of being proactively involved on behalf of her neighbors, she decided it was time to put her business management experience and knack for “causing trouble” to good use, Bratton quipped.

She said she believes serving on the Grandview City Council will provide her the opportunity to advocate for others.

Of importance to Bratton would be working toward the goal of providing more recreational opportunities in the community. She said she feels Country Park and the community center are not fully utilized.

“I would like more tournaments and events,” she said.

A flea market or farmers market, said Bratton, would be a good addition at Country Park.

Also, Bratton would like to closely review the contracts for city employees, determining how much the taxpayers are spending on benefits. She said she would like to more closely align the figures with what is paid in the private sector.

To do that, Bratton said a council member should be involved in union negotiations.

“If I am elected, I want the people to know I will be available to them,” she added.

Some of the decisions made by the recent council members Bratton questions.

“Some activities are necessary, but there are others I believe should have been decided with further input from the planning commission,” she said.

The city’s Downtown Alive project, for instance, was completed without enough input, she said.

The sale of Bleyhl Community Library is another sore spot, said Bratton.

She said the library building was donated to the city by the Bleyhl family for the sole purpose of serving as a library.

“The city bought the land, but the library was donated…the family donated it, stating it could only be used as a library,” Bratton said.

She also believes the Grandview City Council should have a voice in the operations of the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo. “There was a rodeo this year, but not much of a fair,” said Bratton.

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Gaylord Brewer

Gaylord “Gay” Brewer is a lifelong resident of Grandview, having graduated from Grandview High School in 1959. He owned and operated PG’s Paint, Glass & Security for three decades before retiring.

Brewer and his wife, Peggy, believe in serving the community. She is a member of the Sunnyside Community Hospital board of directors and he has past experience on the Grandview City Council.

“Our whole lives have been spent enjoying our hometown,” said Brewer.

Citizen involvement, he said, is an important aspect of his life. In addition to his 12 years on the city council, he has served as a volunteer firefighter, Rotary Club president, fair board member, past exalted ruler of the Lower Valley Elks Club and as a chamber of commerce member.

Although he retired in 2002, Brewer continues to operate a limited locksmith business.

He said his past experience on the city council included the development of Country Park, the addition of the Alice Grant Learning Center, the development of Vista Grande Park, the construction of the former senior center and current fire station, as well as attracting Yakima Valley Community College and the Wal-Mart Distribution Center to the community.

Brewer said he has a greater understanding of city operations from his experience, as well.

“I believe my previous experience as a Grandview councilman can provide needed direction and financial responsibility in improving our community’s stability,” said Brewer.

“We can continue to make Grandview a great place to live,” he added.

He said the city’s finances will be his primary focus if he is elected to serve on the Grandview City Council again.

“I want to make sure they are aligned with the public’s ability to pay,” said Brewer.

Particularly, he is concerned the city of Grandview relies too often on grants to pay for street projects.

Brewer wants the city to plan for maintenance and improvements to streets “…just in case grants are no longer available.”

He said he would also like to revive a council subcommittee system, giving council members the responsibility of meeting with staff members from different departments on a regular basis.

In those meetings, staff members could discuss activities within their respective departments, as well as foreseeable issues that may arise like maintenance problems or the need for emergency vehicles, said Brewer.

He said the council members could be more informed and more proactive when recommendations are made to the council body.

Also of concern to Brewer is the current use of an outside legal firm. He said he would like to review the practice because he would like to have an in-house attorney.

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Betty Garza

Betty Garza was raised in Sunnyside, but chose Grandview as her home after living in California for a number of years.

She raised her two boys in Grandview and said she has come to “…truly love my community.”

For the past few years, Garza has worked to become more involved in the community. She joined the city’s swim pool committee last year and said the experience is providing her with insight, as well as a greater understanding of the passion her fellow citizens have for Grandview.

“I have learned I can actually make a difference,” said Garza.

She wants to extend the work she is doing on the pool committee, serving the citizens on the Grandview City Council.

Garza said she would like to “…reach out to our Hispanic citizens and encourage more involvement in the community from them.”

She said it is important the Hispanic community feel their voice is important.

“I would like to see events where the people can meet their elected officials, such as a day in the park…people need to know and understand everything that is voted on or improved impacts all of us, not just a few,” Garza said.

Also of importance to her is reaching out to youth in the community, providing them with safe places for socialization and recreation.

“If we don’t want our kids roaming the streets, then let’s give them a place they can hang out, and not just on school nights but on the weekends also,” said Garza.

Because the city of Grandview has made strides in improving its downtown core and other areas, she feels it is time to focus on young adults.

“But most importantly, I want to be a part of the process to improve and grow our community…not just sit back and hope somebody does it for me,” said Garza.

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Joe Jensen

Joe Jensen is a family man, involved as a volunteer at Harriet Thompson Elementary School and taking care of the family home.

His wife, Elizabeth, is an English teacher at Grandview High School.

“We are trying to teach the importance of being involved in our community to children,” said Jensen.

If elected to serve on the Grandview City Council, Jensen said he would like to improve the city’s recreational programs.

He said he would like to add a soccer pitch with seating to the city’s facilities because the sport is popular among community members.

“I’m fully aware that will be a hard sell,” said Jensen.

Also, he said, the pool needs improvements and although the pool committee is working hard to see those improvements made, he believes the city can do more to make them happen.

Jensen said serving on the city council would provide him the opportunity to make a difference in the community, as well as help him better understand how the local government works.

He said there is a need for more family-friendly activities in the community, “…other than at the community center or playing in the parks.”

For instance, Jensen said he would like to see a miniature golf course in Grandview.

“I want my kids to be proud they grew up in Grandview…I want them to come back and raise their own families here,” he said.

Additionally, Jensen said he hopes to improve voter outreach in the community because he feels the populace is not properly represented.

“There are only about 5,000 registered voters…it’s such a small number representing the community,” he said.

Most of the council members, said Jensen, seem to get along, “…but, it’s hard to know what the new council will look like…there are nearly half the seats on the ballot.”

The Grandview City Council, he said, has done a good job serving the community and has been responsible with the taxpayers’ money.

“I’d like to continue the trend while finding ways to provide more activities for families,” said Jensen.

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