New look of Walla Walla City Council sends message

Now it's up to the two new Council members and five incumbents to determine what citizens want.


It wasn't a clean sweep, but it's clear Walla Walla voters were looking for change when they cast their ballots.

Voters on Tuesday ousted two of the four incumbent Council members seeking re-election.

Apparently challengers Chris Plucker and Mary Lou Jenkins, who both ran for office saying they would bring fresh perspectives to the Council, struck a chord with voters.

But the public also affirmed the work of two City Council veterans, Barbara Clark and Jerry Cummins. Voters were discerning in their call for change.

And this makes the voters' message difficult to interpret for all seven of the Council members. It's clear there is some dissatisfaction with the direction the Council has taken the city, but how much? What do folks want to see done differently?

It's the job of the five incumbent Council members and the two members-elect to figure out what direction residents want them to take the city. This will be a challenging and exciting time for the Council and the city.

We see the overall makeup of the new City Council as solid. The seven members are diverse with very different perspectives. This should result in Council members getting input from a broad cross section of citizens on which to base their decisions.

It's certain that the two incumbents who were defeated, Dominick Elia and Fred Mitchell, are taking the elections results hard. Both men have given two decades of services to citizens as Council members. They care deeply about Walla Walla and its residents.

Elia and Mitchell are true public servants. They have spent an incredible amount of time and energy on making Walla Walla a better city. They have taken strong stands they felt were best for citizens and they willingly took the heat for their decisions.

Neither man should take their ouster as personal. Elia and Mitchell simply came up against strong challengers at a time when voters were looking for a new direction.

The experience of Elia and Mitchell will be missed on the Council. In addition, the absence of Elia's strong leadership will be noticeable.

Yet, the current Council members and the new newcomers have no choice but to fill that void. It is our hope -- our expectation -- they will take the city in the right direction.


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