KENNEWICK – A city council candidate in Kennewick has advanced to the general election on a platform that includes calling for illegal immigrants to be executed if they refuse to leave town.
Loren Nichols collected nearly 400 votes in his ward – that’s about 26 percent of Tuesday’s primary vote, enough to place second out of three candidates. He’ll face incumbent Steve Young, who also serves as mayor, in the citywide general election this fall.
Nichols, 56, has said in media interviews that if immigrants are seen entering the country illegally they should be shot on sight, and any who refuse an ultimatum to leave Kennewick should also face the death penalty. He didn’t return an email from the Associated Press seeking comment Thursday, and his outgoing voice mail message said, “I’m taking a break away from my campaign phone for a while.”
“Illegal entry into and occupation of our city by illegal aliens constitutes rape of Kennewick,” he wrote in his official candidate statement. “This is not a misdemeanor. This is an offense that warrants the highest penalty.”
Young said Thursday he’s not surprised Nichols finished second. The candidate who finished last, William Miller, declined to say anything publicly about his political positions. He didn’t even publish a candidate statement in the voter pamphlet.
But it is surprising that Nichols received as many votes as he did, Young said. Young garnered 939 votes.
“I take any opponent seriously, and I take threats of violence from other people seriously,” Young said. “This isn’t what we want to be proud of in our city. I certainly don’t think a majority of people in Kennewick feel that way.”
Young said he understands that the issue of illegal immigration has inflamed many people, and he said he agrees that the U.S. has a dysfunctional immigration system. But he also said the city of Kennewick has little authority to weigh in on the issue, and he said he believes the societal costs of illegal immigration have been overstated in certain quarters. Illegal immigrants have caused few problems in Kennewick beyond driving without licenses or car insurance, he said.