This editorial will appear in Friday’s edition.
No matter who voters pick among the many candidates running for Tacoma City Council this year, the council will look a lot different come January.
That’s the result of the city’s term limits, which are showing three council members and the mayor the door. Voters reaffirmed their support of term limits’ purging power last year when they defeated an attempt to repeal the city’s 10-year limit.
Two of the four Tacoma City Council races this year drew enough candidates to make the August primary ballot. Our choices in those races kick off this year’s election endorsements. We’ll publish other primary election recommendations over the next couple of weeks, and then start working on our general election picks in September.
How and why we endorse:
The editorial board offers its opinions year round on public policy decisions. We don’t think it makes sense – when election season arrives – to suddenly go silent on who ought to hold public office and make those decisions.
Our endorsements are based on interviews with the candidates, their track records in the community, news coverage, the insights of people and groups we trust, and our assessment of what a particular city (or school board or court) needs from its elected officials.
These endorsements are not offered as holy writ, but rather as one part of a mix that includes the recommendations of other organizations, the candidates’ campaigns and, of course, voters’ own research and priorities.
Our picks for Tacoma City Council:
&bull In District 4 on Tacoma’s East Side, three people are running to replace departing Councilman Rick Talbert. We are endorsing Marty Campbell, but were also impressed by both of his opponents, Roxanne Murphy and Susanne Emily Marten.
Campbell, the owner of Stadium Video and Buzzard’s Discs in Tacoma, would add an important small-business perspective to the council. He’s been heavily involved in civic projects, from helping found the Tacoma Film Club to chairing a committee to study downtown parking solutions.
His scope of experience comprises a blend of community activism – he’s helped his neighborhood with crime prevention and community improvement – and business advocacy. Campbell is also chairman of the Cross-District Business Association, an alliance of business districts throughout Tacoma. He’s a former chairman of the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council.
That broad experience and perspective establishes Campbell as a candidate who can both lobby for his district’s interests and look out for the welfare of the entire city.
Murphy also has been busy in her neighborhood, especially at the grass-roots level. She’s been active in many East Side community groups and has served on the East Side Neighborhood Council and DomeTop Neighborhood Alliance.
Murphy worked for the city as a community relations specialist before leaving to pursue a master’s degree in public administration at The Evergreen State College. She is energetic and dedicated, and could be part of the next generation of city leadership. We hope she stays engaged.
The third candidate, Marten, is one of the most knowledgeable candidates in any race this year. A former vice president at Good Samaritan Community Healthcare, she has a doctorate from the University of Washington in public finance and policy analysis. She recently returned to school to study urban planning and environmental science.
Marten is a bona fide authority on many public policy issues. But her low-key, academic bearing wouldn’t seem to lend itself to forceful advocacy, and the East Side needs a politician as well as a thinker.
&bull In the race for District 5, which represents the far southern swath of the city, including parts of South Tacoma, the South End and the East Side, voters again have a choice among three solid candidates.
We’re endorsing the one with the least amount of name recognition: John Miles.
Miles is one of those diligent, behind-the-scenes workhorses who get stuff done but might not get a lot of recognition. He helped develop Neighbors’ Park in the Hilltop before moving to the Edison neighborhood. He’s the vice chairman of the South Tacoma Neighborhood Council and chairman of the Edison Community Based Services Action Team.
A former teacher, Miles recently got a business degree from Tacoma Community College and is starting a job as a tax collector with the state Department of Revenue. He studies issues carefully and pays attention to details.
A close runner-up is Joe Lonergan, who works for The News Tribune as an advertising sales representative. He also has community organizing credentials, serving on the South End Neighborhood Council and the Wapato Park advisory committee.
Lonergan would likely be a councilman in the mold of his father, Mike, who has displayed an independent streak and proved to be a voice for the less fortunate during his time on the council. Mike Lonergan’s term is up this year.
Also running is Beckie Summers Kirby, who has a long résumé of civic service. She’s served on the Tacoma Human Rights Commission, the Tacoma Civil Service Board, the Tacoma Public Library Board of Trustees and the Pierce County Charter Review Commission.
Kirby would be a close ally of the city’s unions. She is the right candidate for those who think city employees’ pay and benefits must be protected or improved. We think the city needs council members willing to hold the line on contracts and overhead costs.