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Tacoma City Council races: Facts and gossip

Post by David Seago on Feb. 16, 2009 at 11:31 am with No Comments »
February 16, 2009 11:31 am

There hasn’t exactly been a blizzard of hats flying into the ring for Tacoma City Council races this fall, even though five seats, including the mayor’s post, are up for grabs.

Architect Jim Merritt has announced for mayor, and Beckie Summers-Kirby has declared for the South Tacoma council seat to be vacated by Connie Ladenburg.

Marty Campbell, active in community and business issues and owner of Stadium Video and Buzzard Records, has filed with the Public Disclosure Commission for the East Side district seat to be vacated by Rick Talbert. But he hasn’t made a public declaration of candidacy yet.

Considering that four of the five contests are for open seats and the August primary is only six months away, that’s not much action. As always, though, there’s plenty of unconfirmed gossip and speculation.

In addition to Talbert and Ladenburg, Mayor Bill Baarsma and Councilman Mike Lonergan will be term-limited after two terms. Councilman Jake Fey, who represents Northeast Tacoma and part of the North End, is the only incumbent who is up for re-election.

The grapevine has it that Fey is considering the mayor’s race. Fey would have to give up a likely second Council term to run for mayor, so it would be a calculated risk for him.

I’ve heard that Council rookie Marilyn Strickland, elected last fall to an at-large seat, is being urged to run for mayor, but that seems an unlikely prospect. But she wouldn’t have anything to lose, except a lot of work, if she tried.

Campbell, chairman of the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council, finished third two years ago in a four-way contest for the at-large seat Strickland won. One name that has come up as a potential opponent in that race is Becky Fontaine, who has directed local nonprofit organizations.

One of the mysteries of the city’s early political season is what Pierce County Councilman Tim Farrell, D-Tacoma, plans to do. It is no secret that Farrell has had his eye on the mayor’s job for several years. He’s in his second and final four-year term on the County Council and could run for mayor this year without giving up his county post. But there has been no public sign that he’s running.

So there could be five new faces on the City Council next year, and possibly six.

If Councilwoman Julie Anderson wins her bid for Pierce County auditor — she’s filed with the PDC but hasn’t officially launched a campaign — her seat will be filled by appointment. The new member would have to stand for election the following fall.

Taking notice
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