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Our choices for Puyallup City Council

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Oct. 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm with 12 Comments »
October 20, 2011 6:21 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In the past few years, Puyallup City Council meetings have become notorious for contention and disruption. Some of the candidates running for election this year go so far as to call it “embarrassing.”

After the Nov. 8 election there will be at least three new faces on the council. “Works well with others” isn’t usually at the top of the list of candidate qualifications, but it should be a consideration in this case. Policymaking bodies can’t do their best work without a modicum of civility and decorum.

Here are our choices for the contested positions:

At-large: Steve Vermillion is, hands down, the best qualified of the candidates for this seat.

His opponent, Nicole Martineau, was appointed to the council early last year, and she’s done a reasonably good job. Much of her involvement in city affairs has come recently. Vermillion has formidable credentials, including a career as a highly decorated retired military officer.

The tone of Vermillion’s campaign has disappointed us; it’s been nasty at times. But there’s no denying his leadership qualities and impressive qualifications for the council.

District 1, Position 2: We endorsed downtown businessman and Puyallup Mainstreet director John Hopkins in the primary, and he still has our support. A gracious, intelligent chap (he’s a naturalized citizen from Great Britain), he likely would contribute to a more temperate atmosphere.

That wouldn’t be the case with his opponent, retired railroad employee Tom Smillie. At a notorious 2009 council meeting, he was one of the citizens who began shouting at council members so angrily that the police were called in.

According to the videotaped recording of the meeting, Smillie said, “You people want to be un-elected? You just signed your death warrant as far as that goes . . . I will march until the soles of my shoes have holes and blood runs out the bottom, and you won’t get elected again.”

Smillie later stormed out of the meeting while pointing at four members of the council and said, “You’re done, you’re done, you’re done, and you’re done.”

Scary guy. Smillie is temperamentally unfit for any public office. Voters should elect the affable and well-informed Hopkins.

District 2, Position 1: Current Planning Commission chairman John Palmer faces former commissioner Charley Stokes in this race. We’ll go with Palmer, a smart and knowledgeable candidate.

A senior policy adviser with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Palmer is much more current on the issues facing Puyallup, particularly ones to do with growth and livability. Even Stokes, a retired Boeing production supervisor, admits he’s having to bring himself up to speed. He would be OK on the council, but Palmer is the stronger choice.

District 3, Position 1: Two fairly well-matched candidates, both who have served on the Planning Commission, are squaring off in this race: retired county engineer Robin Ordonez and Tom Swanson, assistant to County Council member Joyce McDonald.

This is a close call, and either candidate would be a fine addition to the council. We give the edge to Ordonez. He’s been a capable, well-prepared member of the Planning Commission for the past four years and he’s taken a more balanced approach to development issues than his opponent, who has leaned heavily toward developers.

Ordonez’s background in public works makes him a valuable asset on the commission, and it would serve him and the city well on the council.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. PuyallupNow says:

    Great endorsement of Vermillion!

    More good info at:

  2. “Tone has been nasty”–where did you guys get that from. I think Vermillion has told nothing but the truth and it may hurt sometimes, but he is right on spot. The endorsement is right on.

  3. Congrats Steve V.

  4. volvo1999 says:

    Dear News Tribune,

    You need to vet John Palmer better, just sayin, and Thank God Tami Brouillet is gone, could not have been any faster.

  5. puyallupmutt says:

    Mr Ordonez is the real scary candidate on two counts.
    1. He has never seen a tax or a fee he didn’t like. Clearly in favor of big and bigger government.
    2. He has recently ordained himself as the World’s leading expert on Public Works. A real concern is that if elected, he will interfere beyond his charter by meddling with Public Works on day to day matters. A very dangerous micromanager that the public does not need on the council.

  6. snoopy123 says:

    I wish George Dill was still around!!

  7. On an extremely rare occassion is a single candidate endorsed by all public safety agencies and a key newspaper. Steve Vermillion is endorsed by your fire fighters (The Pierce County Professional Fire Fighter Union Local #726), your police officers (Puyallup Police Association) and just today, by the Tacoma News Tribune. Now that’s an expression of confidence as to who is the best candidate. Congratulations Mr. Vermillion!

  8. volvo1999 says:

    Dear Puyallupmutt,

    Same with Palmer, Big time Liberal

  9. tomsmillie says:

    Although the Trib did quote me accurately in their slamming of my electability(is that a word)they left out the first half of the story. I did not go up to the podium for my three minutes as a raving lunatic that this article leads the reader beleive. After a movement by some of our council people to redraw district boundaries that would have taken my representative, George Dill out of his district,you bet I was angry and frustrated by the gerrymandering that was proposed. I was not the only person angered, nor was I the only person that had harsh words for council. The citizens in the audience gave a rousing ovation as I stepped away and the redistricting move was halted at the next meetin by 27 or so citizens speaking out against the movement.The council listened and voted the measure down. End of the whole story.

  10. I voted twice for you Tom. The TNT has no clue. This incident was another case of Turner trying to spin the facts to put a black mark on any citizen so she could use it in the future. Now it’s being used. She has created the current “council against citizens” environment. She and others will smile and kiss your butt if you say something they like, but make faces, roll their eyes and not thank you as you step away from the podium if you disagree with them. They (Turner, Brouillet and Martineau) are so plastic and phony!

  11. The comments regarding Tom are out of context. The Turner camp to include Martineau use the tactic of intimidation and work to discredit anyone to does not agree with them. If Martineau does not get elected, she will languish in her misery sitting in a corner at Bumpy’s trying to figure out how to screw over someone.

  12. volvo1999 says:

    Hey Hayseed,

    I bet you Brouillet is at Bumpy’s also, I have heard she is a regular at that dive.

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