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OUR VIEW

Our view: Keep the Kelso City Council incumbents

City Council candidates Mike Karnofski, Kim LeFebvre, and Jim Hill discuss their approach to the city's water supply and infrastructure.

Kelso voters will elect four members to its City Council this fall, and at least two seats on the seven-member council will change hands.

The Daily News endorses two incumbents seeking re-election to new four-year terms — Mike Karnofski for Council Position 2 and Kim Lefebvre for Council Position 3.

We also endorse Jim Hill — who served on the council from 2015 to 2019 — for Council Position 4. Hill and Rowan Kelsall are competing to replace Richard McCaine, who is stepping down a year after the council appointed him to replace David Futcher.

City Council candidates Mike Karnofski, Kim LeFebvre, and Jim Hill discuss their approach to public safety.

Opponents to Hill, Karnofski and Lefebvre were no-shows for our Zoom editorial board meeting, making us question their level of engagement. Beyond those absences, however, we believe there are solid reasons to endorse Hill, Karnofski and Lefebvre.

All three have expressed strong support for Kelso police while favoring the adoption of officer body cameras. They want to look for ways to develop more middle- and low-income housing. All want to address Kelso’s aging Ranney well system without switching to Longview water, which they contend is of bad quality. All three say repairing Kelso’s rutted and potholed streets needs to be a priority.

City Council candidates Mike Karnofski, Kim LeFebvre, and Jim Hill discuss the housing issues.

Karnofski has had a long career in government and public service. He was a county commissioner from 2010 to 2016 before being elected to the Kelso City Council in 2017. The retired Weyerhaeuser Co. manager serves on the executive committee for the Cowlitz Economic Development Council, the Cowlitz County park board and as a trustee for Lower Columbia College.

“Economic development is more than just infrastructure. You need to give people a nice place to live, you have to have a qualified and educated workforce,” Karnofski told TDN reporter Brennen Kauffmann.

Voters would do well to retain Karnofski’s dedication, experience and commitment.

Hill, a military veteran, has served on numerous local boards and social service organizations. He has a solid agenda planned to work on streets (especially those in North Kelso), expand South Kelso commercial development, improve Tam O’Shanter Park and boost downtown. His experience, “apolitical” approach and commitment would be big pluses for the city.

City Council candidates Mike Karnofski, Kim LeFebvre, and Jim Hill discuss their plans to attract jobs and businesses to Kelso.

Lefebvre is a 54-year city resident who in her own words “bleeds Kelso.” She wants to attract more business to Kelso, but the city needs to sell itself better, she says. The council needs her enthusiasm for improving Kelso.

Lefebvre, who said she had COVID-19, and Karnofski were the only council members to oppose a recent symbolic resolution opposing state mask mandates. Karnofski also voted against a separate resolution opposing state vaccine mandates.

We find it refreshing that Hill, Lefebvre and Karnofski agree that the council should focus on the business of governing and improving the city than on symbolic causes that are costing the city money for legal fees.

City Council candidates Mike Karnofski, Kim LeFebvre, and Jim Hill discuss the Franklin County City Council meeting walkout. A Franklin County meeting turned into a mask protest and the candidates share their thoughts.

We believe that Lefebvre, Hill and Karnofski would bring a levelheaded and cohesive approach to council business. We urge voters to support them.

We are not endorsing a candidate for Council Position 1 because candidate Curtis Hart dropped out. Hart said he did not want to file financial disclosure forms required of all elected officeholders. This leaves Brian Wood running unopposed for the seat now held by Jeffrey McAllister, who was eliminated from contention in the August Primary Election. However, Hart’s name will still appear on the ballot because he withdrew after the printing deadline.

City Council candidates Mike Karnofski, Kim LeFebvre, and Jim Hill offer their final statements following the editorial board interviews.

 

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