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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