This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
Four seats on the Tacoma City Council are up for election Nov. 8. Three are easy calls for the incumbents; the fourth – to fill the open District 1 seat – is a little tougher.
The race is between recently retired educator Karen Smitherman and Anders Ibsen, the office manager of his wife’s law practice. Both are smart, active in local Democratic politics and likely would vote very similarly on issues coming before the council.
The choice comes down to which candidate would be a better fit with the council, providing an added dimension and perspective that is not there now. We think that is Smitherman.
The current council includes no retirees or educators. Smitherman has a wealth of life experience – she had lived on Tacoma’s West End for more than 10 years before her opponent was even born – and has a strong history of community activism. Currently she serves on the Pierce County Juvenile Justice Coalition.
It’s telling that Smitherman has the sole endorsement of the 27th District Democrats, a group that presumably is familiar with both candidates. She has ours as well.
In the other three council races, the only incumbent with even a vaguely credible opponent is self-employed architect David Boe, who was appointed to the at-large Position 7 two years ago. He faces South Tacoma electrician and political newcomer Mike Hardy, who does not seem to be mounting a vigorous campaign.
Boe is the obvious choice. Before his appointment to the council, he served on the city’s planning and arts commissions. He is knowledgeable on land use, permitting and small business – no small consideration given the kinds of issues that typically come before the City Council.
Boe is well-deserving of a full term on the council.
In District 3, Hilltop resident Lauren Walker is the slam-dunk choice over Robert Hill, a troubled man with
criminal tendencies who is being held without bail at the Pierce County Jail, awaiting a court-ordered mental health evaluation.
Walker, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Washington, has been a solid representative for her district and deserves re-election.
So does at-large Position 8 incumbent Ryan Mello, Pierce County director of the Cascade Land Conservancy. A former Metro Parks board commissioner, Mello has championed environmental and livability issues on the council.
Mello’s opponent, Will Baker, is a perennial candidate who has been arrested repeatedly and has been convicted of disorderly conduct. Enough said. Voters have a fine alternative in Mello.