Benton County Strong rally informs voters on local GOP candidates

The event featured speakers all endorsed by the Benton County Republican Party

RICHLAND, Wash. — Dozens gathered Tuesday night for the “Benton County Strong” rally at John Dam Plaza in Richland.

The event featured food vendors, music, and a lineup of speakers all endorsed by the Benton County Republican Party.

Some of the speakers involved included Rep. Brad Klippert, Commissioner Will McKay, Kennewick City Council candidate Gretl Crawford. and Richland School Board candidate Semi Bird.

Hayley Hoyt, the Kennewick resident who organized the rally, said the main purpose is to “educate and inform people on who they’ll be voting for” in the August election.

“The goal is for conservative people or even anyone to know who to vote for and be able to hear firsthand from the candidates what they stand for,” Hoyt said. “The whole point is to have a big, loud rally.”

Hoyt said she’s a “lazy American” because she’d never been involved or interested in politics until the pandemic.

“I lived in rural towns almost my entire life. Everything was great. I didn’t care and I think a lot of people are kind of the same way like you just go with the flow,” Hoyt said. “When the flow changes it wakes a lot of people up either one way or the other.”

Hoyt said “listening to these candidates lit a fire” inside of her.

“They’re willing to put their time and their effort to make changes and to do things in our community that I think a lot of us want,” Hoyt said.

Judi Johannesen, the chair for the Benton County Democrats, said she believed that “local county organizations should stay out.”

“We strongly think that people should run on their individual strengths and not their affiliation with a party at the local level,” Johannesen said. “It should be about being neighbors to one another, about being Tri-Citians, not about being Republicans or being Democrats.”

While the local GOP has endorsed certain candidates, Johannesen said “the Benton County Democrats had not ever endorsed a nonpartisan race.”

“How we make decisions, which is a democracy, always trumps our economic system,” Johannesen said. “So when we elect people to go to Congress for us to create programs, we expect them to make programs that are to benefit the people.”

Both agreed, however, that the most important thing to do before elections is to inform voters.

The deadline to register for mail-in and online voting is on July 26th before the election on August 3rd.

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