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.

Our choices for University Place City Council and school board

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Oct. 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm with 3 Comments »
October 19, 2011 5:08 pm

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Change is coming to University Place, with at least two new faces on the City Council and one on the school board after the Nov. 8 election.

The City Council, in fact, has had close to 100 percent turnover now, with only Ken Grassi remaining from the original council elected in 1995. And however the election turns out, it will get its first African-American council member. That diversity is long overdue.


The main issue candidates bring up is, naturally, the painfully slow progress of the Town Center project and the hefty debt it has imposed on the city.

• The race for the open Position 2 seat is a tough call between college administrator Steve Smith and 10-year school board member Kent Keel, who happens also to be black.

Although either man would have a positive impact, we think Smith is the stronger candidate. He co-chaired the successful capital campaign for the new University Place Library and has served as president or chair of such organizations as Rotary, City Club of Tacoma and the Franciscan Health System Foundation. Nye

• In the race for another open seat, Position 5, we endorsed Chris Nye, owner of a real estate marketing company, in the August primary. He was the top vote-getter, followed by Realtor Ken Campbell.

Nye is an excellent candidate. The former Special Forces commander now serves on the city’s Economic Development Commission and its Traffic Impact Fee Committee. He again has our endorsement in the Nov. 8 general election.


• In the Position 7 race, Caroline Belleci is hoping to be elected to the seat that she was appointed to in 2010. She faces retired Merchant Marine captain Howard Lee.

Both are intelligent candidates who obviously care for their community. But Belleci – a contract compliance manager with Pierce County – has a much stronger record of involvement in University Place. Besides spending 15 years on the Planning Commission from 1995 to 2010, she has served on the city’s incorporation committee, the Chambers Bay Master Site Committee and the Pierce County Regional Council.

Voters should keep Belleci on the council.


School board
• Two very good candidates are running for the open Position 3, attorney Annie Fitzsimmons and dentist Nick Tennison. Both are exceptionally good prospects and are knowledgeable about the funding challenges the University Place schools share with virtually every other district in the state during the economic downturn.

We lean toward Fitzsimmons, who has been deeply involved with her children’s schools, doing such in-the-trenches work as serving on the PTA, raising money and tutoring math.

Fitzsimmons will be the kind of school board member who is likely to challenge the status quo and ask tough questions – and every board needs someone like that. If Tennison is not elected, we hope we’ll see him on another ballot in the future.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. MistyMsChristie says:

    Once again the Tribune continues to make STUPID choices. Does the Editorial Board live in UP? Do they know what the tax payers are having to endure with a council majority so decidedly pro staff and these endorsements will continue that majority? Besides the fact that we’ll probably be saddled with eric “my dad’s a mayor” choinere as mayor! UGH!! The blind leading the blind!

  2. Patrick O'Callahan says:

    As a matter of fact, two of the editorial board’s members, Publisher David Zeeck and myself live in University Place. We’ve met the candidates, know the city and made our endorsements accordingly.

  3. KentKeel says:

    Yes, I am the candidate running for UP Council Position #2 against Mr. Smith. I am likely breaking all the rules for a candidate weighing in at this level. And, a very smart person once made reference to never go against someone that buys ink by the barrel. To be clear, I fully support the editorial board right to endorse whomever they wish. That is a right in America that I have sworn to defend with my life as an active duty veteran and a current member of our military reserve.
    The editorial board is masterful with their inclusion and omission of words used to convey their opinion. Here are a few examples:
    1. They said that they “think” my opponent is stronger not that he “is” stronger like they did with their other council endorsements.
    2. They title the library “University Place Library” when in fact it is the “Pierce County Library”.
    3. They mention that I am a “10-year school board member” when in fact I have won three general elections to the “University Place School Board” which is the best school system in our region.
    4. They give credit to another candidate for having a stronger record of involvement in University Place and serving on a city incorporation committee and do not give me credit for having and doing exactly the same thing.
    They make mention that we will finally have the first black council member this cycle, but failed to mention that the premiere black civic organization in our area, the Tacoma – Pierce County Black Collective, has given me their sole endorsement. They also failed to mention I have sole endorsements from the West Pierce Firefighters, Pierce County Master Builders and Tacoma – Pierce County Association of REALTORS.
    So, they think he is a stronger candidate, but for whom and to what end?

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