Monday, October 14, 2013
Walla Walla City Council member Jim Barrow has done an excellent job in his six years in office.
We see no reason to replace him.
Barrow has retired twice, first from a career as a U.S. Air Force attorney before moving to Walla Walla. He then took a job as an administrator in Umatilla County. He has since retired from that position.
Barrow is thoughtful and pragmatic. He has a solid grasp of local government and its challenges.
Barrow, correctly, believes Council members should balance what they believe is best for the community while always considering the wishes of citizens.
His challenger, Paul Mobley, is a strong candidate and has a lot to offer the public.
This is a situation in which the voters can’t make a bad choice.
Mobley owns the downtown restaurant, Aloha Sushi. He moved back to Walla Walla, his hometown, after a career in business in which he traveled the world.
Mobley is bright and he is open to working through an issue to understand it fully.
Both men are well suited to serve on the City Council.
Barrow looks at every issue from every possible angle. He takes the time to understand an issue before he makes a decision.
The dust up over whether to keep Rose Street four lanes or make it a three-lane road — as advised by the city engineers — is an example of his approach.
Originally Barrow supported the three-lane configuration as safer.
But a public outcry over eliminating one of the lanes on Rose caused Barrow to reconsider. He listened to the citizens, thought it over, and reversed his stand.
Barrow reasoned the safety differences between a three- or four-lane roadway was minimal, but the citizens’ movement to retain the four lanes was significant.
Mobley, given he’s new to city politics, seems to be a quick study.
And we like the fact he owns and operates a small business. That’s great perspective.
Unfortunately, it is going to take Mobley some time to understand what government can and can’t do.
For example, Mobley seems to want to pick and choose what businesses can operate downtown to create a nice balance of restaurants, shops and tasting rooms. He is particularly annoyed food trucks are allowed to sell in the downtown area. He sees it as unfair competition since they have less overhead than restaurants.
He believes requiring a low-cost business license for all merchants could bring in some city oversight to level the playing field.
His frustration as a business owner is understandable, but we don’t see that as the City Council’s or city government’s role. Businesses should come and go depending on whether there is a market for the product or service.
Other than that, Barrow and Mobley agree on most issues.
We see Barrow as the strongest choice because of his solid experience before and after being elected to the City Council six years ago. He is now serving as Walla Walla’s mayor.
Mobley is a good choice for Council Position 1, but Barrow as the better choice.