Inside Opinion

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Tag: Jim Merritt


Tacomans paid a price for their council’s secrecy

As we’ve repeatedly noted, the Tacoma City Council shut the public out when its members decided on finalists for two open seats. The citizens paid a price for that secrecy.

I’ll focus on a single case. In making that first cut, the council eliminated 36 applicants, leaving eight. One of the rejected candidates was architect Jim Merritt, who narrowly lost the citywide election for mayor last September. His opponent, Marilyn Strickland, was among the council members who secretly made the cuts last week.

Was Mayor Strickland magnanimous, chilly or judicious in that discussion? Did she defend her recent rival? Argue cogently against possible polarization resulting from his appointment? I don’t particularly care what side she came down on. But Tacomans would have learned more about their new mayor had they been privy to a discussion that produced a de facto decision behind closed doors.

I’m not arguing for Merritt’s appointment here, just wondering why his application was dumped in favor of other candidates who – for all their virtues – couldn’t match his very long record of contributions to the city.
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Merritt for mayor (if only we could get Strickland, too …)

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Tacoma’s mayoral contest this year poses the kind of dilemma we wish every race offered: two candidates so good that it is hard to pick between them.

We are endorsing Jim Merritt, but with considerable regret that we couldn’t somehow also endorse his opponent, Tacoma City Councilwoman Marilyn Strickland. Unfortunately, there’s room for only one person in this office.

When we pass over a candidate, we sometimes cite inadequate experience, limited volunteer service or other lack of preparation. We can’t do that in this case, because Strickland is eminently qualified to be mayor of Tacoma.

She is quick on her feet, a formidable advocate, dynamic and public-spirited. She possesses an MBA and substantial experience in both the private and public sector.

Her relatively brief two years on the City Council are buttressed by many years of community service in other capacities. She’s been part of the volunteer leadership of the Grand Cinema, the Tacoma Public Library and other important organizations. She exudes competence, intelligence and decency. She’d make a fine mayor for Tacoma.
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The Battle of the Berm

In battle, the fate of empires can turn on a small piece of higher ground. Think Little Roundtop. Think Bunker Hill.

Think the Dome District berm.

OK, that’s hyping things a bit, but the berm – which Sound Transit wants to build to bring its Sounder trains from Freighthouse Square to Pacific Avenue – is turning improbably into the central issue in Tacoma’s mayoral race.

Jim Merritt (I give some credit to campaign manager Ronnie Bush) has been playing the issue brilliantly. A much-respected architect, he’s pushing a “post-and-beam” alternative of concrete piers, and he’s has positioned himself as the champion of underdog Tacoma against the overbearing Sound Transit.

His opponent, Marilyn Strickland, has had a hard time responding. She voted with her fellow city council members to work with Sound Transit, which Merritt’s camp casts as a bully bent on ruining the future of the Dome District.

In the middle of all this is City Manager Eric Anderson. Visiting us yesterday, he offered a far less apocalyptic view of the beam-vs.-berm choice.
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