Man Seeks to Move Benton County Seat - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Man Seeks to Move Benton County Seat

PROSSER, Wash. - Results from Decision 2006 are official tonight. Benton County Auditors have the final tally on how many people voted in the November election. It's a fun fact for some, but others need to know to make some major county changes.

Before you accomplish any big project you have know where you stand. Because of Tuesday's total one man now knows how many more petitions he needs Benton County voters to sign.

The Benton County Auditor's Office said 50,276 Benton County people voted in November. That's 65% of the registered voters. Retired Benton Franklin Superior Court Judge Fred Staples has been waiting for the tally so he knows how many more signatures he has to get to put a proposal to move the Benton County Seat on 2008 ballots.

"Virtually everyone in the Tri-Cities agrees it aught to be moved. I don't find 3 or 4 people in 100 that don't believe it aught not to be moved," said Staples.   

As of now the county seat sits in Prosser. Staples wants to move it to the Tri-Cities. County departments are required to have an office at the seat, and that divides county workers.

"Most of my staff is in Prosser. I have employees in Kennewick, and Richland. I don't have the bulk of my staff in a location that serves the public," said Bobbie Gagner, Benton County Auditor.   

Staples needs at least one third of registered voters to agree to move the seat before it can appear on the 2008 ballot. He's tried this before, but decided to try again when he heard Benton County Commissioners wanted to build a new $7 million county building in Prosser.

"I went to the meeting a year ago in February. You do that and I'll start another county seat move. I think they thought I was kidding, well I'm not kidding," said Staples. 

Staples said he only needs 6,000 more signatures to put the move on the ballot. 

To find out more on the petition go to the On-Air Links section of our website and click on "Benton County Seat Petition".