The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Introduction to the Pullman mayoral candidates

Francis Benjamin and Deb McNeil seeking election to mayor’s office on Nov. 7.
Deb McNeil (left) and Francis Benjamin (right) speaking at a candidate forum on Oct. 18

Pullman’s mayoral election will be held on Nov. 7 and two main candidates are competing for the position, which is open with no incumbent seeking reelection for the first time since 2004.

Pullman Mayoral Election candidates Francis Benjamin and Deb McNeil are both advancing to the Nov. 7 general election after winning August’s primary election.

The two candidates are running for a four-year term as mayor. Benjamin is a Pullman City Council Member, and McNeil is a former Pullman school teacher and business owner. The election followed the announcement of Glenn Johnson’s, Pullman’s mayor for nearly 20 years.

Benjamin said his top campaign priority is building a welcoming community, while McNeil stated a primary concern of hers was water management and taking care of Pullman-Moscow Groundwater Basin, the aquifer Pullman utilizes for water supply.

“When I talk about a welcoming community, there are a lot of aspects to that,” Benjamin said. “There is one aspect around communication, and improving communication within our community, with our community members and with the city and city leadership.”

According to Benjamin’s campaign website, looking at increasing amenities for Pullman’s seniors and young professionals is another priority in his campaign, as is supporting business growth in downtown Pullman.

“We’re working to identify what specific businesses, restaurants, shopping experiences, etc. all of our community members want and a lot of them are culturally based,” he said. “Then we’ll work with entrepreneurs to look into starting businesses of those types.”

For McNeil, a large focus is on the longevity of the water supply in Pullman, she said. Trying to find the best option for water security and making the connections to be able to do so is a large priority.

“The first way to kill a community is to not worry about the water,” McNeil said.

McNeil said one of the potential options for Pullman is a pipeline leading to the Snake River, which would serve as a water source.

“A pipe that needs to travel all the way from the Snake River would be a multi, multi, multi-million dollar project, but it’s doable,” McNeil said. “We’d obviously have to get to work with our legislators to get state funding and congressional funding. As mayor, I would work very closely with those people and build a relationship. If both Moscow and Pullman get together, there’s nothing we can’t do, with both of us pulling in our legislators, we could go for it.”

In addition to water security concerns, McNeil said her campaign was focused on relationship-building and the establishment of connections with business owners.

“The other priority is business, taking care of the business we have now and bringing in new businesses that reflect our culture and values,” she said. “My job as mayor would be to welcome businesses. I want to be able to say to them, ‘You are important here,’ and provide them with a source of grants or low-interest loans. We don’t ever want a business owner to leave because they’re not getting support.”

In addition to a focus on building a positive community, Benjamin’s campaign is also heavily focused on promoting a vibrant downtown, according to his campaign website. Benjamin said one of his focuses is developing a downtown community-gathering space. The project would oversee the construction of underutilized railways, which would leave room to extend city play fields and create more green spaces.

“It allows us to put a green space down by the library that we could develop into a community gathering space,” Benjamin said. “We don’t have a multi-generational community gathering space within our town and this allows us to develop that. It would also allow us to add green spaces and parks on the north end of town, especially for the students, who mostly live on the north side of town anyways.”

Voting equipment will be available at the Compton Union Building from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. according to the Whitman County website.

More to Discover