Elected Official's Biographies

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Last Updated on Monday, 20 July 2015 08:17

The following are the current city councilmembers:

Francis Benjamin Fritz Hughes Jeff Hawbaker Al Sorensen
Eileen Macoll Nathan D. Weller Patricia A. "Pat" Wright  


Francis Benjamin, Councilmember, Term: 2012-2015, Ward 1 

Francis enjoys life in Pullman and the opportunities it provides. He and his wife, Heidi, came to Pullman in 1984 while attending the University of Idaho and stayed after graduation, finding Pullman a great place to raise a family.  Francis has worked previously as a broadcast engineer, an electronics project engineer, and a technology consultant.  He engages his engineering, psychology, theology, and political science degrees to design psychological research experiments which answer relevant complex questions.  His Political Interaction research lab works to discover ways to improve the current political process.
Francis has served on Pullman’s City Council since 2003, where he specializes in economic development.  He is past president of the Association of Washington Cities and the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association and he currently serves as co-chair of the Palouse Knowledge Corridor’s five-day Be The Entrepreneur Bootcamp.  He earned the Advanced Certificate of Municipal Leadership from AWC in September 2008 after receiving the Certificate of Municipal Leadership in January 2006.
Being active and involved in our community is important to Francis, so he has served where he could make a difference.  Some of these areas have included: Whitman County Red Cross Board, the city of Pullman Environmental Quality and Human Rights Commissions, Meals-on-Wheels, Pullman Chamber's Lentil Festival Committee, Boy Scout and Venture Scout Leader, Pullman Chamber's Economic Development & Governmental Affairs Committee, Palouse Knowledge Corridor, Southeast Washington Economic Development Association and in his church.
Francis and his wife, Heidi, have three adult children.  Their oldest, Jeremy, is proudly serving as a Marine, Joel graduated in 2015 from EWU, and Gailynn is still in college.  Francis cares for people and wants to make a difference in lives in and around Pullman.  "The people you meet and the relationships you develop are what makes Pullman a special place."  He looks forward to continuing his work with the community to build relationships, advance our vibrant quality of life, mentor youth, to develop business opportunities and to improve Pullman.


Jeff Hawbaker, Councilmember, Term: 2014-2017, Ward 3

After growing up in various parts of the country, Jeff received his BSEE from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now MS&T).  He went to work at Westinghouse Electric in Baltimore before transferring to College Station, Texas, where he received his Masters degree in Computer Science.  Jeff held numerous software-related engineering positions at Westinghouse before taking a contracting position at a Motorola semiconductor fabrication plant in Oak Hill, Texas.  Jeff came to Pullman in 1992 to start work at SEL on product development in R&D.  Jeff has watched SEL grow from about 75 employees to over 1500.  He has been involved in numerous product launches and upgrades during which he received one patent and has another patent pending.  Currently, Jeff is a development manager at SEL.

Jeff and his wife Debbie have found Pullman to be a great place to raise their family.  Their daughters have enjoyed and benefited from the safe, challenging, and rewarding experiences they have received from the Pullman School District.  Likewise, they have enjoyed the activities available to them through the Parks and Recreation department, and through Girl Scouts.

Debbie has devoted much of her time to volunteer activities in the schools, at church, and with Girl Scouts.  Jeff decided it was time for him to give back to the community as well.  So in the spring of 2009, he became active in the Kiwanis Club and then ran for the open city council seat.  Jeff enjoyed getting to know his neighbors during the campaign and looks forward to representing them in Pullman’s quest for constant improvement.


Fritz Hughes, Councilmember, Term: 2014-2017, Ward 2

Most of my adult and professional life has been spent in Pullman.  Of my thirty-one years in public education as a teacher an administrator, twenty-six of those years were in Pullman.  Upon my retirement from education, I was selected to be the Executive Director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, a position I held for nine years before retiring in 2008. This job works very closely with the city to make Pullman a better place to work and do business. I also have been very active and continue to be involved in many different organizations within Pullman.  I am presently on the Pullman Regional Hospital Foundation Board, YMCA Board, Pullman Education Foundation, Young Life Adult Committee, and I am an active church member.  Being involved with the Pullman community through these different organizations has proven beneficial in my preparation for the city council position.

I feel that Pullman continues to be in a very positive position during these difficult economic times.  With partnerships with community, Washington State University, occupants of the industrial park, and city government, I feel we are in a positive position to move forward to meet future challenges.  I would like to see continued expansion of the Pullman Moscow Airport; our community to be good stewards of our natural resources: water and farm lands, and to support the research to sustain these resources; a vibrant retail base; affordable housing; planned city growth with strong infrastructure; the expansion of parks and paths for beauty and recreation as the city grows; and continued positive growth of our public school system, city government, police, fire, hospital and health services to provide a community that is safe, and productive for all citizens.

It is important to be visible in the community.  I am an open listener and will take constituents' comments and suggestions in a serious manner.  I can also be reached by email.

I am married to Mary Margaret Hughes.  She is a retired Pullman Public School educator of over 26 years.  We have two sons, Christopher, who lives in Seattle, WA, and Peter and his wife, Molly, and our two grandchildren, Oliver and Gabriel, who live in Lancaster, PA.  I love the game of golf!


Al Sorensen, Councilmember, Term: 2014-2017, Ward 1


Eileen Macoll, Councilmember, Term: 2014-2015, At-Large


Nathan D. Weller, Councilmember, Term: 2012-2015, Ward 2

The saying goes that it takes a village (or community) to raise a child.  I was that child, and I was motivated to run for office by my passion to give back to that same community. I have lived, attended school and worked in the City of Pullman for the majority of my life.  I have also had great opportunities to travel and work in places such as Australia, Europe, the 48 continental states, Mexico and Canada and have a wide base of experiences and knowledge from around the world.  Yet when I see our rolling wheat fields and hear the Cougar Fight Song I always breathe a great sigh of relief.  This is a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family and attend school, and now I have a chance to serve the citizens as a long-term resident and WSU graduate.

My parents always taught me that if I see a problem I should work to find a solution. I have seen the many different sides of Pullman and Whitman County, having grown-up in Pullman, and graduated from Pullman High School and Washington State University.  I received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and then was employed full time at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL). After 5 years of employment, I returned to school and in 2012 graduated with a Master's of Science in Bioregional Planning and Community Design from the University of Idaho.  My M.S. focused on multi-jurisdictional collaboration, especially in the areas of Whitman County and Latah County, and between the cities of Pullman and Moscow.

I became involved in the local community at an early age as a volunteer at the WSU Sports Camp in the 1990's.  I worked in Nogales, Mexico with other teens and handing out food, fixing-up orphanages and building houses.  Currently I am a member of the Whitman County Historical Society, Northwest Coalition for Human Rights, Sacred Heart Church Knights of Columbus, Backyard Harvest, Palouse Knowledge Corridor, and the Pomona Grange in Moscow, Idaho.  I am also on the Whitman County Human Rights Committee, Capital Improvement Program, the Whitman County Blue Ribbon Advisory Task Committee and Chair of the Poverty Awareness Taskforce.  I have also had the pleasure to serve on the City of Pullman Audit Committee, Neill Public Library Strategic Planning Committee and Professional Development Committee.  In 2012, I had the privilege to do an internship at the NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia and I am extremely interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) outreach to students.  In addition, I recently received my certification in Advanced Municipal Leadership from the Association of Washington Cities.

Through experiences with a small business I started in 2006, and my campaigns for Whitman County Commissioner and Pullman City Council, I have had the pleasure to talk with thousands of residents in Pullman and surrounding communities.  They have shared with me their thoughts, visions, challenges and successes in the place we all call home.  My focus, energy, drive and determination is to unite Pullman residents and those in the region in order to solve the problems and challenges that we as a community currently face and will face in the future as Pullman continues to develop and grow. I am a consensus builder and think that no single person or organization has all of the answers, but together we can solve any problem.

My vision of Pullman is one of a vibrant and diverse community: a place with an economic base broad enough that the children and grandchildren of my fellow residents can find good paying jobs with good benefits.  I see a place that welcomes people from around the country and world; a place that WSU students call home; and a safe and clean city with opportunities and services for young and old alike. Last but not least, a place where businesses, science and technology can grow and a place that leads our region and state in excellence, education and opportunity.

I am always open to opposing viewpoints as well as like-minded individuals from all walks of life, so contact me at any time to talk, share concerns, ideas or suggestion. I look forward to continuing to work closely with ASWSU, WSU faculty and administration, GPSA, Whitman County Commissioners and neighboring Moscow, Idaho to find cooperative efforts to build an even better city, community and region.


Patricia A. "Pat" Wright, Councilmember, Term: 2012-2015, Ward 3

I have been a resident of Pullman since September 1975 and have been actively involved in the community since January 1989.  As a result of that involvement I have been exposed to many different aspects of the community and felt ready to move that involvement to the next level.  When the possibility that the Ward 3 position would be vacant, I felt it was the right time to submit my name for consideration.

I have been actively involved in the community for 18 years, serving on the boards of directors of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Pullman and the Pullman Education Foundation as well as serving on the Pullman Civil Service Commission.  In addition, my position as General Manager of The Bookie, provided me ample opportunity for interaction with both the city and Washington State University.  As a result, I have an understanding of many of the issues facing the city and the community and I believe my sound analytical abilities along with strong communication skills would enable me to understand problems, solicit input, seek reasonable solutions and articulate outcomes to affected constituencies.

In my vision for Pullman 20 years from now, I see, first and foremost, the relationship between Pullman and Washington State University continuing to thrive.  It is very rare to have the strong “town and gown” ties that have been developed between these two entities and it is in our mutual best interests to foster and enhance that partnership.  Secondly, I feel that Pullman has the potential of being a destination location with the growth and development of conference and convention facilities, recreational opportunities and increased shopping, dining and entertainment venues. We must be prepared to sustain the level of growth that has occurred over the last twenty years into the next twenty and be able to promote our community as extremely livable for all age groups, a safe place to live and to retire where businesses succeed and residents prosper.

My husband, Ray, has been a Washington State University Animal Sciences professor since 1975.  We have 2 children, Caroline, 27, a project accountant for The Gap Corporation in Albuquerque, N.M. and 2002 graduate of WSU; and Joe, 25, a second- year law student at Santa Clara University and 2005 graduate of the University of Washington.  We enjoy our two English Springer Spaniels, love to travel and are avid college football fans.