The TDN editorial board is endorsing Jeff McAllister for Kelso City Council Position No. 1 and encourages you to vote for him.
The Daily News editorial board met with Dan Vannelli and Jeff McAllister. Usually, we meet with both candidates at the same time, but because of scheduling conflicts, we met with them separately. However, we made sure to ask the same questions to get an understanding of how each candidate compares with the other.
We discussed various permutations of a fireworks ban/restrictions, top priorities, economic growth and quality of place.
Although we believe either of these candidates would be a fine choice for the residents of Kelso, it is their slight differences that helped us give support to McAllister.
Both candidates agree economic growth is a priority. McAllister told us it was his number one priority, while Vannelli listed drugs and homelessness as his top priorities.
We agree with McAllister that economic development should come first. As we’ve seen throughout the country, communities with high unemployment suffer significant problems with drugs, crime and homelessness.
Improved economic development would not only be good for the residents of the community, but it also would give the city increased resources to help stem drug use. McAllister also believes drugs and homelessness are big issues for the city, but the biggest priority needs to be bringing economic development to the area.
With improved economic development, the city would be better able to work on improving the other issues. It is because of this difference in priorities that we endorse Jeff McAllister for the position of councilman for the city of Kelso.
We agree that many local problems stem from people not having jobs or not having high enough paying jobs. We believe a loss in jobs can lead to an increased use of drug and alcohol. In fact, in many rehabilitation programs, getting gainful employment can be a key to staying off an addictive substance.
We also believe bringing more jobs to the area not only improves employment, but gives the city better resources to fight such problems as homelessness, blight and drug use.
We asked both candidates about Councilman Jim Hill’s proposed fireworks restrictions.
McAllister said he is not open to any type of fireworks ban or changes unless residents want them. Vannelli said he is not in favor of a ban, but would be OK with a modification of the length of time allowed for selling and using fireworks.
They also both agree any change to the current law would have a significant negative economic impact on the non-profit groups that use fireworks sales as a primary fundraiser.
Another area where the candidates agree is the car tab fee. Kelso, like Longview, has a $20 fee tacked on to the car tab registration, and both cities use these funds for road improvements. Neither candidate is in favor of raising the car tab fee. Vannelli told us he did not want any car tab fee increase and McAllister expressed the same while adding taxes repress economic activity.
Neither candidate wants a methadone clinic in the city of Kelso. They both said having a methadone clinic in the heart of downtown Kelso could exacerbate the existing drug problem. Both agree these types of facilities should be closer to medical services such as PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center.
We asked both candidates what their view is of the term quality of place.
Each candidate believes quality of place includes jobs, events and improved parks. Besides holding sporting events and festivals at Tam O’Shanter Park, events could be held at the Kelso airport.
Both candidates have similar goals, cleaning up the city, and improving the health of the city by reducing drug use and homelessness, while growing the local economy. It is the priority of these goals and ideas that stood out to us.
We urge you to vote for Jeff McAllister for Kelso City Council Position No. 1.
Editor’s note: To read all of The Daily News’ editorial board endorsements this election season, go to: tdn.com/news/opinion/endorsements.