Democracy alive and well in the Lower Yakima Valley

15 file for local seats

There will be at least one new face in city government in the Lower Valley next year.

That's according to candidate filings with the Yakima County elections office yesterday, Monday.

A combined 15 candidates in Sunnyside, Grandview, Bickleton and Mabton filed to run for office yesterday. That's in addition to a pair of Sunnyside School Board candidates who filed early.

Candidate filings yesterday included business owner Gloria Mendoza, who is seeking the Grandview City Council, Pos. 3, seat now held by Mayor Pro Tem Pam Horner.

In an official statement released last night, Horner announced she would not seek re-election. Instead, Horner said she is mentoring and supporting Mendoza in her election bid.


There's also a new face in Sunnyside City Council elections, as longtime resident Robert Perales officially filed yesterday to seek the Dist. 1 seat now held by Councilwoman Theresa Hancock.

As Granger police chief and Mabton's before that, Perales says he has experience in working with cities. His focus, if elected, is to ensure funding for public safety. He will also stay on as Granger's chief, if elected.

"Recently Sunnyside has made good progress cutting crime rates," says Perales. "It has been my experience that when crime falls, the tendency is to cut officer positions. Do that and crime goes right back up again."

Though he has had legal issues with city government in both Mabton and Granger, Perales says he can bring a new perspective to council. "I'm looking to bring the other side to the table," he says of having law enforcement represented on council.

Perales, seeking his first elected office, added, "People who sit on councils are usually shielded from actual day-to-day operations. There are issues that can be resolved through management and working together."

In other Sunnyside City Council filings yesterday, Deputy Mayor Don Vlieger is seeking re-election to his Dist. 3 seat.

"Four years ago I promised the citizens of Sunnyside that I would do all I could to promote public safety and make Sunnyside safe," Vlieger said in a prepared statement. "In the last three-and-a-half years, I have been the initiator or a major proponent of numerous crime reducing initiatives that have reduced Sunnyside's major crime more than 38 percent over a seven-year average."

Also yesterday, Dean Broersma filed to retain the Sunnyside City Council, Dist. 2, post he was appointed to earlier this year.

"So far it's been an enjoyable challenge," says Broersma. "I certainly learned a great deal about the city and serving the community."

Other filings for Sunnyside offices yesterday included Michelle Perry seeking re-election to her Dist. 2 seat on the Sunnyside School Board.

A fifth generation native of Sunnyside, Perry says much has been accomplished and there is still much work to do in the Sunnyside School District.

She praised progress in the graduation rate at SHS and efforts underway now at the district's middle schools.

"Another thing we've done really well is making a huge improvement with staff and professional development," Perry added. Looking ahead, if re-elected she'd like to see the district be more fiscally responsible and do more to ensure equal opportunities for all students in the district.

One other candidate filing related to Sunnyside was Arnold Martin seeking another term as the Port of Sunnyside's Dist. 1 commissioner.


Elsewhere in Grandview, Ron Grow filed in a bid to retain his Dist. 3 seat on the Port of Grandview Commision. Likewise, Richard Shenyer filed in an effort to keep his Dist. 1 seat on the Grandview port. "It's been a good last year-and-a-half or so and I look forward to hopefully continuing on," said Shenyer.

Also yesterday, Paul Jepson filed in a re-election bid for his Dist. 5 seat on the Grandview School Board. "If re-elected one of my focuses will be on safety," says Jepson. "With the climate out there today, I believe that's definitely a priority."

He also lauded efforts to improve graduation rates at Grandview High School, noting the district has garnered accolades for the progress.

One other candidate filing for Grandview yesterday was incumbent Javier Rodriguez seeking re-election to his Pos. 2 seat on the Grandview City Council.

Mabton & Bickleton

Over in Mabton, 24-year-old Freddie Perales is seeking elected office for the first time, filing yesterday for the Mabton City Council, Pos. 3, seat now held by Mark Gourneau.

"Mabton is at a stage where it's changing for the better and I want to be part of making our community better," says Perales.

His goals, if elected, would be to increase the amount of business in Mabton and to create more activities for youths. "Something to keep people busy so there are not as many taggings," Perales says.

In other Mabton City Council candidate filings yesterday, incumbent Oping Hutson sought to retain her Pos. 1 seat on council.

"We've come a long ways from the last four years and, with another four years with the rest of the council, we're hoping we could go ahead a little bit farther," says Hutson.

Mabton City Councilman Mario Martinez filed as a candidate yesterday in a bid for the mayor's seat now held by Angel Reyna.

Also in local filings for office yesterday was Elsa Sanchez, who is seeking re-election to her Dist. 3 seat on the Mabton School Board.

In addition, Miland Walling filed with Klickitat County to seek the Pos. 1 seat on Bickleton Fire District #2.

Filing for office

Candidate filings for elected office in Yakima and Klickitat counties will continue through this coming Friday.

For more information about running for office in Yakima County, contact the Elections Division at 509-574-1340 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each business day or reach the office via e-mail at


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