Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

For UPlace: Two incumbents, two newcomers

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Oct. 15, 2009 at 8:26 pm with 8 Comments »
October 29, 2009 1:41 pm

In University Place, one issue overshadows this election: the achingly slow progress of Town Center, the public/private development on Bridgeport Way the City Council envisions as a way to expand the tax base.

Critics note that the project has only one visible result so far – the City Hall/library building and the parking garage under construction. Defenders argue that Town Center is now well-positioned to capitalize on the economic recovery with its “shovel-ready” infrastructure.

Incumbent and current mayor Linda Bird has taken most of the heat on the issue. Her opponent, real estate consultant Javier Figueroa, has made Town Center central to his campaign for Position 1.

The News Tribune’s editorial board endorsed Bird in the primary because she has been part of a council majority that has been a force for dramatically positive change in University Place. One need only look at its parks, sidewalks, streetlights and other amenities to see what Bird and her colleagues have accomplished for the young city.

Bird, a pioneer of incorporation, deserves another term. Her opponent has not made a compelling case for unseating her. Indeed, some who have served with him on other boards describe him as divisive and inflexible – two qualities that would not serve him well on the City Council.

For Position 3, the editorial board is endorsing first-time candidate Eric Choiniere over incumbent Lorna Smith. Choiniere, who has lived in University Place since 1988, serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission and on the Pierce County Citizens Advisory Board. He would be an energetic, thoughtful voice for low- and moderate-income residents.

Smith has contributed much to the city, and she deserves thanks for her service, which includes working for incorporation and 14 years on the City Council. But she increasingly appears to be faltering. We think the voters should replace her – and thank her for her long years of commitment to the community.

For Position 4, there is no contest. Voters would be seriously remiss if they failed to give incumbent Ken Grassi a fourth full term.

Grassi brings a businessman’s sensibility to the council as well as a congenial temperament in dealing with colleagues and the public. A particular interest of his has been finding ways to enhance the city’s appearance through donations, not tax dollars.

His opponent, retired Air Force pilot Carl Mollnow, is not a viable candidate. He’s been a committed citizen, and he assisted the incorporation movement, but he’s also displayed volatile tendencies and lacks the temperament needed to help govern the city.

The contenders for the one open seat on the council, Position 5, could not be more different. Human resources professional and manager Denise McCluskey is reserved and takes a measured approach to issues. Rose Ehart is as outspoken as McCluskey is quiet.

Each woman would bring a different set of skills to the City Council, but we think McCluskey’s years of involvement on city commissions make her the better candidate. She was a Parks and Recreation Commission member from 2002 to 2007 and has served on the Planning Commission since 2007. That and other community volunteer service over the years have prepared her well for the City Council.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. DrWernerKlopek says:

    There was a time when newspapers carried a lot of clout. Nowadays they are just tools for the rich to maintain control of the populace. Oh the arrogance! My advice, ignore the TNT’s recommendations and mainly vote the opposite. Linda Bird should be the one congratulated and sent away packing to “Happy Trails.” Lorna Smith stays, for now. I still think Rose is better than Denise McCluskey who has never run a serious campaign. She could have defeated Jean Brooks two years ago but just threw out her name and that was it. Then there was her “Write me in for District 28″. Ken Grassi, is very likeable, he plays Joseph or Jesus at Life Christian depending on the seasonal pageant, so I suppose give him another term.

  2. finalfantasylvr says:

    Cheryl had the two incumbents and the two newcomers wrong; The incumbents should be Lorna Smith and Ken Grassi. The only reason given against Lorna is “appears to be faltering”, which is an AGIST remark if ever there was one! If asking for transparent government, answering to constituent requests for help and asking questions of an over spending, ill qualified staff, I wonder how Lorna would be if she wasn’t supposedly faltering. Perhaps the reason she’s been overlooked in favor of an unemployed, inexperienced man of questionable character, is because she asked the TNT why Brent Champaco hasn’t actually been attending the meetings he’s been reporting on. I would challenge Cheryl to prove her claims that Lorna Smith “appears to be faltering”. If that’s the only excuse, it is too “faulty” to base as important decision as who should be voted to postion #3. I would encourage voters to simply read the online TNT voters guide. That alone should be illuminating.

  3. Lorna Smith is out-of-touch and clueless as to what the citizens of U.P. actually feel right now. She’s still stuck in about 1975. Her possibly racist comments regarding affordable housing at a recent city council meeting should also immediately disqualify her. This isn’t rural Mississippi where stuff like that’s acceptable; this is U.P. and we deserve better.

    Choiniere would be a badly needed breath of fresh air over the stale and tiring rhetoric and ideas of Smith.

  4. finalfantasylvr says:

    Possibly racist commentrs??? Stuck in 1975??? What planet is PhilG living on? He has painted someone entirely different than what Lorna Smith is. She’s never made derogatory remarks about anyone let alone racist ones, unlike others who allude that nail and teriaki businesses as less than desirable for UP. Those comments can be heard at the last candiate forum being made by LInda Bird. If you have actual quotes to prove your allegations, leave the agist, slanderous and laible comments to yourself Mr PhilG. Supply something that is actually concrete to show that Eric Choiniere is the better candiate. What has he actually done for UP? He was apppointed to the PARC commision without their recommondation by Debbie Klosowski’s, Linda Bird’s, Gerald Gehring’s and Jean Brook’s votes over more qualified individuals, in an attempt to show some experience on the voters guide. It had been planned from early on that Mr Choiniere would run against Lorna Smith. Check it out:

  5. During a city council discussion on affordable housing Lorna Smith asked the council if “we really want those kinds of people in our city”. Anyone with half a brain can figure out who “those kinds of people” are.

    Smith is dangerously out of touch. Fortunately her reign of incompetent mismanagement will be coming to an end soon.

  6. swade2569 says:

    Throw out all the incumbents. U.P. coffers would be a lot deeper if the Clocktower were still there and generating revenue than some lot growing 2′ of grass. It was a horrible idea then and the sitting council has turned bad to worse (as unimaginable as it seemed back then).

    My greatest worry when this thing came about was that big business would move in and jack up the values so that small business couldn’t compete. Clearly I was wrong. All business suffers when buildings get torn down and nothing takes their place.

  7. “Bird -ok I see your points. Plus she is the self proclaimed “mother of UP”.

    McCluskey – finally you recognize her. Definitely potential for becoming one of the councils best assets since incorporation.

    Smith – are you kidding the “faltering” she has done is to not join the “good old boys(actually girls)” club. She is strong, passionate and represents the citizens of UP in every decision she makes.

    Grassi – obvious choice. We have enough craziness in our lives. We don’t need a raving finger pointing screamer making city decisions.”

  8. finalfantasylvr says:

    PhilG you are skating very close to slander with your missquotes. You had best provide accurate proof to your allegations. I note there are no dates to corroberate your claims as to when this was said and so cannot be confirmed. So… it merely comes down to you being blatantly cruel and hateful! If these slandersous comments continue you may find yourself accused of hate speach and find yourself liable.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0