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Meet the primary candidates for Connell City Council

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

July 20, 2023

By: Katherine Trowbridge

The Primary Election is here, ballots were mailed last week. However, unlike many primary elections, the only voters to receive the ballots are within the City of Connell.

The majority of the voting this year falls under local jurisdictions from council members to Fire District Commissioners.

While northern Franklin County saw an extension to the filing date due to a lack of candidates, the slots were ultimately filled with one or two candidates applying for the majority of the offices. However, for Connell City Council Position 5 there were three candidates who filed, leaving it up to the primary voters to select the two candidates that will move on to the general election.

The Franklin County Graphic sat down with these candidates to discuss why they chose to represent our community and what they will do for you if elected. We also looked at what is going right in our community and where they see things that need improvement. As well as how they will connect with the community to be able to represent them more.

Patrice Hebel stated she filed for the position because people kept asking her. She added, “I want to see change. I want to see growth. We see so many businesses shut down. I want the community to succeed.”

She continued, “I’m here to serve. I’ve been serving since 2018. I started going to chamber meetings because I wanted to know what’s going on in town and promote that to draw people to the hotel.”

Hebel is a member of the Greater Connell Area Chamber of Commerce and also serves as a chamber board member elect, she serves on the Fall Festival Committee, the Hotel Motel Tax Fund Committee, and Salary Commission. When not serving the community in these ways, she serves as Manager of the M&M Motel, bringing in people to stay and spend money within our community.

Hebel stated that she fell in love with our town long before she even knew she’d end up here. “It was so cute. The park, the town is so quiet and peaceful. It’s our little Pleasantville.”

Of what’s going well she shared, “I love seeing all the new businesses and the revamp of the downtown. The pool thing [free swim], Young Life, and church stuff. Anything to keep kids busy and off the streets.”

As far as what we need to improve on, she shared the hours of restaurants and other businesses is an issue as her out of town guests can’t utilize them when they aren’t open. She also said a breakfast restaurant.

“I want to see the town grow, I don’t want to see it die off,” she said, “I want to make a change. So this is my way to get in there and get started.”

As far as connecting with the community Hebel shared, “I read the paper. I listen to what people are saying and what they want done in town,” adding that she is easily accessible to the community. “If someone has ideas for council they can always stop by and see me.”

Preston Hart is a fifth-generation resident of Connell. He shared, in his candidate bio, about his passion for both protecting the integrity of our town and his desire to see it thrive for generations to come.

Hart has nearly 20 years of experience in both domestic and international business management which he feels could benefit the citizens of Connell through a focus on economic development while protecting the core values that make Connell such a great place to raise a family.

When we reached out to Hart he stated he did not feel the need to share any comments on his run for city council.

Stephanie Hallman may be a new face to many in our community, however she has lived here since 2016. Hallman originally came here when Lamb Weston recruited her to serve the Connell Facility as their Occupational Health Nurse, bringing her to Washington from Alabama.

Hallman stated, “I didn’t expect Lamb Weston to be as diverse as it is,” sharing the variety of ethnicities and religions represented, “There is such a diversity to Connell as many live within the community.” She spent a lot of time with these different demographics of the community through her job and many shared they didn’t feel represented within the community. “By me running for office, whether I am elected or not, I feel that it gives hope to other people that they can do something too.”

She stated that through her job at Lamb Weston, “I had to first build trust with the people and once I had their trust they didn’t care what I looked like or where I came from - they knew I was there to help them. Those are some of the aspects that, if elected, I want to bring to that role.”

Hallman also worked at Columbia Basin Health Association and did some per diem work at the prison. She now works as a nurse for Reliable Healthcare in Richland, WA primarily serving Hanford Workers. She still lives in Connell for that “small town” feel. That’s what got me here. It reminded me of the small town in Alabama where I would spend my summers as a little girl.”

In representing the community Hallman stated, “I will represent them in the way I’d want someone to represent me. By listening to the community, respecting them and their needs, ideas, and being open with them on what’s going on.”

As a public advocate, Hallman shared her goal in representation is for the community. “I don’t have a financial tie. My goal is for the betterment of the community as a whole. Connell - we can work together and plan for our future or we can not plan and have it change by chance.”

Her goal is to work together and make a plan for Connell’s future with growth that encompasses and retains that small town feel. She also sees the need to diversify the housing from just single family, to housing that provides for the needs of the community as whole, but is still aesthetically pleasing and brings even more of a sense of that small town community.

With what could see improvement she shared, “Inclusion. There is an underlying division in Connell. I want to work towards a better feeling of inclusiveness for the total community.”

Ballots can be mailed or dropped in a ballot box by Aug. 1. The Connell Drop Box is located at Clark St. and 5th.

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