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Boyle, Dill and Taylor for Puyallup council

Post by Kim Bradford on Oct. 1, 2009 at 8:03 pm |
October 29, 2009 1:42 pm

This endorsement will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The more we see of elections and their aftermath, the more we’re convinced that temperament is the single best measure of a candidate’s potential for public service.

A candidate can have ideas as big as the Grand Canyon or a résumé as long as Interstate 5, but he or she will get nothing accomplished without being able to work with others.

That’s especially true in Puyallup right now. The city – where City Council meetings too frequently devolve into sharp clashes between two voting blocs – needs council members who know how to disagree agreeably.

That need weighed heavily in our primary endorsements. All three of our picks survived the August election. In the time since, nothing we have learned has changed our minds about who is best suited to the City Council.

Just the opposite, in fact, in the District 3 contest. We’ve become more convinced that the candidate we endorsed last July is the voters’ best option. That race will decide who replaces outgoing Councilman Mike Deal.

In July, we described radio broadcaster Kent Boyle as our “runaway preference” for the position. Today, that would be an understatement.
Boyle has deep roots in the community. He has chaired Puyallup’s parks board, has served on a police advisory committee, works at a local food bank and has coordinated entertainment for the annual Meeker Days.

More importantly, Boyle understands what’s at the root of the council’s dysfunction: the factions’ failures and sometimes outright refusals to communicate. He could be an articulate, mature go-between to help bridge differences. “The first thing you do is you don’t align yourself with anybody,” he says.

His opponent, John Alexander, comes across as soft-spoken and personable. But his past reveals a scary pattern of explosive volatility.

We knew two months ago that he was one of several residents who shouted so disruptively at a City Council meeting this spring that police had to intervene.

What we didn’t know was that Alexander also had flashed a loaded gun on school property in 2007 during a run-in with two strangers he claimed had dinged a parked car.

Nor did we know that in 2008, Alexander reportedly screamed at two police officers who were sorting out a custody dispute between Alexander and his ex-wife, calling the cops “jackasses.”

Taken together, these episodes don’t bode well for Alexander’s ability to handle the pressure of public discourse, much less help the council repair its rift. He’d be gasoline on the fire.

The same background checks that revealed Alexander’s encounters with police also showed that a candidate in the District 1 race, Tony Aho, was charged with drunken driving in 2007.

That doesn’t change our view that Aho, assistant director of admissions and advising at Pacific Lutheran University’s School of Education, is an impressive newcomer. Aho seems to have accepted responsibility for the mistake.

But we’re still sticking with incumbent George Dill, a retired Army sergeant major who has urged open government and attention to neighborhood concerns. He is a critic of the current city administration, but hasn’t been needlessly divisive.

In District 2, incumbent Rick Hansen is a different story. He’s a smart, articulate business consultant with a strong record of community service, but he’s occasionally stirred the pot just to see it churn.

Hansen is a good choice, but his challenger, retired police officer Chris Taylor, is an exceptional alternative.

Taylor has been attending council meetings for a year and half, so he knows the people and the issues. He’s no-nonsense, energetic, responsive and likely to remain above the fray.

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