It's difficult to say which is more concerning - that a candidate for a City Council position in Kennewick would seriously advocate the death penalty for illegal immigrants or that 26 percent of voters actually supported that candidate.
Initially we were stunned and appalled by the pronouncements of candidate Loren Nichols. He said that if he is elected to the City Council he would push to rid Kennewick of illegal immigrants. He advocates giving illegal immigrants a 30-day notice to leave the city. Those who refuse, he said, would be subject to the death penalty.
He advocates a policy in which those crossing the U.S. border illegally would be shot on sight.
And he also wants to make Kennewick an English-only city for all public discourse.
Nichols, a 56-year-old former Navy linguistics expert who now runs a yard business, should have been trounced at the polls in this month's primary election. Shockingly, he took second and will face off against Steve Young, Kennewick's current mayor. It's good that 62 percent of voters supported Young, which makes him the clear favorite to win the election.
Nevertheless, it's disturbing that 26 percent of voters cast their ballots for Nichols after his hate-filled stand had become well-publicized. The Tri-City Herald, to its credit, took the extraordinary step of denouncing Nichols' views in an editorial that urged a "No" vote for Nichols's candidacy.
Nichols told the Herald he understood his stand on illegal immigration is "very drastic" but he equates illegal immigrants crossing the border to an invasion by a foreign country that should be met with deadly force.
"Confusing civilians with a military invasion requires a willful distortion of reality," the Herald wrote in its editorial before the Aug. 16 primary election. "Most are poor and seeking nothing more than a chance to work. Many are women and children. Quite an army.
"Such nonsense may be acceptable around the dinner table of your average racist household.
"Jingoistic pronouncements are all the rage, even in Congress, but linking them to death threats is another matter.
"Civil discourse - the kind most of us try to have when we're serious about something - requires the use of the brain.
"Also, we hope, the conscience.
"Hateful words lead to hateful actions."
Exactly. Hateful rhetoric such as Nichols' must be denounced.
It must also be rejected at the polls. Voters in Kennewick have an obligation to, as the Herald urged, vote "No" on Nichols and his ideas.