Younger generations take city council member positions - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Younger generations take city council member positions

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KENNEWICK, WA - Elections are over, and this time around, voters have made some pretty big changes to our local city councils.

And one of the most noticeable differences?

A much younger generation of politicians.

Reporter Mackenzie Allen spoke with two new council members who told her a combination of things - including last year's presidential election - helped convince them it was time to throw their hat in the ring.

"To be the pot guy running against a Hanford budget executive is a pretty David-and-Goliath paradigm when you really think about it," said Steve Lee, owner of the Green To Go dispensary in Finley. 

When Lee decided to run for Kennewick City Council, he knew it was going to be a challenge for some people to look past his business. But with about 57 percent of the vote, it's clear they did.

"I think the only reason I was able to pull out a win, is that I am from here and people have known me since I was a child and people have seen me on stage and seen me selling fundraiser stuff for my high school...all the way up to being an adult," said Lee.

This was his first experience running for office, but he says it's something he's wanted to do pretty much his entire life.

"In the 4th grade I went to Congress to lobby for peer mediation training for elementary schoolers," he said. "I've worked on candidacies before; politics has been pretty near and dear to me my whole life, so when an opportunity came to actually run in the neighborhood I live in, for the city I was born in, it was a great opportunity."

For newly elected Richland City Council member Ryan Lukson, tossing his hat in the ring was at least partially in response to the 2016 elections.

"I think there's no surprise that the most recent presidential election has brought a lot of people to the table that otherwise wouldn't have run, and so you get people from all across the political spectrum," said Lukson. "I think it's brought people more interested in local politics, and the truth is local politics probably has a bigger impact on everyday life than national politics."

Lee says now that he's on the Kennewick City Council, he's hopeful he'll be able to encourage more young families to come to the area.

"Tongue in cheek, I often say this is Pleasantville or the Footloose town a little bit, you know," he said, "and there are ups and downs, but to have the reputation throughout the northwest, to be able to point to somebody like me who's not a traditional candidate, I'm young, I'm a small business owner, I won on hard work and elbow grease and name recognition, it should give some non traditional people hope that this town is changing."

Both men say they hope that more young professionals will see what they're doing and realize that they could do the same.

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