After interviewing three candidates for the Richland Council open seat left vacant by the resignation of Councilmember Phil Lemley, the council chose Damon Shayne VanDyke, a manager at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.
VanDyke will be the fourth person on the council from the Meadow Springs area.
VanDyke, Gregery Levy, and KaeRae Parnell had been chosen for an interview from a group of 12 applicants. The councilmembers rotated for about 30 minutes asking one person some of the same questions that were on the application while the other two waited outside the council chamber.
KaeRae Parnell, Meadow Springs
Parnell, who works in project management and controls at the Department of Energy (DoE), said she was retiring and enjoyed volunteering.
Parnell admitted that she did not know much about how the city operated. She asked, “Is there anything not on a website that says what’s required?”
She told the council that the strength of the city was its small-town feel and keeping that would be one of her top priorities.
Parnell said she would hesitate to run for election in 2023 if it was going to cost thousands of dollars but she would keep the option open.
Damon Shayne VanDyke, Meadow Springs
VanDyke was next up. He told the councilmembers that he wanted to listen and learn and to serve the community.
VanDyke said his priorities would be homelessness, crime and preserving public land. He said he was pleased at the progress on the Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
“I will absolutely run for re-election,” Van Dyke told the councilmembers when asked about what he would do in 2023.
First trip to council chamber
Parnell and VanDyke told the Observer that it was their first time in the council chamber, but they had watched council meetings remotely.
Gregery Levy, north Richland
Gregery Levy, radiological controls training specialist for the Washington River Protection Solution, was the only one of the three interviewees who had any experience with city government. He served for seven years on the code enforcement board.
Levy was the only one of the three from north Richland where Lemley had lived.
He told the council that the greatest strength of the city was its “parks, economy, and smart people.” His priorities would be to maintain Richland as a good place to raise a family and to improve walkability.
Levy said, “I don’t know at this time,” when asked if he would run for re-election in 2023.
The Observer was one of the nine other people who applied for the council opening. The other eight were Scott Butner, Chaune’ Fitzgerald, Dusty Howard, Kurt Maier, Justin Raffa, Carl Sarrazolla, Donovan Williams, and Ginger Wireman.
Correction, June 29: Parnell’s comment about the website has been corrected. She said “Is there anything not on a website that says what is required.”
I am so irritated that a number of qualified, involved citizens with varying backgrounds and NOT living in south RIchland were not selected. It worries me when I think about two current members who are running for other offices and might be leaving. Are they stacking the committee before they go?
Pasco and Kennewick have voting districts and we need some too. The less affluent side of town has little representation on the council. This is an unacceptable situation. Thank you for reading the Tri-Cities Observer.