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.

Puyallup council candidate Tom Smillie tells his side

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Oct. 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
October 25, 2011 4:19 pm

Tom Smillie, a candidate for Puyallup City Council, was understandably irked by an editorial last week describing him as “temperamentally unfit” for the council.

We were concerned about his loud role in a wild council meeting in 2009. Smillie called us after the editorial appeared and explained why he flew off the handle that night; to his credit, he also acknowledged that he’d gone too far.

I asked him to send a note I could post here to explain his side of the dispute. Here goes:

My outburst came after a few council members brought up a district line change that would have put one of my council members out of his district, I would have to have been speaking at public comment time of two minutes that comes after public hearings are opened as opposed to citizens comments that come at the first part of council meetings I was upset that some council members were presenting boundary lines that they had come up with and were ignoring two staff drawn maps that did not remove Mr. Dill from his district if he chose to run for another term.

The classic word is gerrymandering and that is what I called their move to change boundary lines to remove George from his district. My tone was over the top and condemning of their actions, but I was not threatening to do any physical harm to anyone, but I made it clear that if they followed through with and redistricted George out of his area, I would march to the soles of my feet were bloodied to get them unelected.

That was also my parting shot on my way out to the lobby when I said,”you’re done” to the four council people on the left side of the dais. I was in no way threatening their safety, just their political careers. The people in attendance were also very vocal and in agreement with those sentiment, just not quite as animated as I was.

I did not leave the building, but was having lower back issues, so I laid down on a seating cushion in the lobby and had no other interaction with anyone.

There was a police officer in the lobby and there were no actions or conversation with any other authorities or council people that night. I have seen the police report that was filed on the incident and know that after review, no charges were brought, and no municipality contacted outside of Puyallup chose to file any charges of any kind.

The other citizens at this meeting were not at all happy about the perceived redistricting conversation. At the following meeting the 20 plus people that stood up and spoke out on going to an all at-large district option and any plan that would move an existing council person out of their district was voted down by the people and the council.

Was my conduct proper at this meeting? No it wasn’t. But at no time was I threatening physical harm to anyone. Your board’s comment that I am “temperamentally unfit to serve” was also way over the top.

Tom C. Smillie

The News Tribune now uses Facebook commenting on selected blogs. See editor's column for more details. Commenters are expected to abide by terms of service for Facebook as well as commenting rules for Report violators to