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Bird trailing in UP council race

Post by Melissa Santos / The Olympian on Nov. 3, 2009 at 11:01 pm | 2 Comments »
November 4, 2009 10:30 am
Linda Bird
Linda Bird

Sitting mayors and council members in most Pierce County suburbs were  winning their re-election bids Tuesday night, with few challengers unseating incumbents in early returns.

The biggest ouster so far looked to be in University Place, where mayor and councilwoman Linda Bird was trailing challenger Javier Figueroa.

Bird has sat on the University Place City Council since the city’s incorporation in 1995 and has been a tireless defender of the city’s Town Center project. The downtown civic and retail complex on Bridgeport Way has been in the works since 2003, but has yet to move forward beyond the start of construction on a parking facility and library.

Figueroa said Tuesday that citizens in UP want change and are annoyed at the city’s mismanagement of the Town Center project, which city officials originally hoped to complete in 2006.

“They really are frustrated with the lack of leadership, and the blame falls squarely on her,” Figueroa said Tuesday.

Bird wasn’t able to be reached for comment Tuesday night. Should Figueroa’s lead hold, he wouldn’t inherit Bird’s position as mayor, since the position is a ceremonial one that rotates between council members.

In other University Place council races, incumbent Councilwoman Lorna Smith was losing to Eric Choiniere, a member of the city’s parks commission, while incumbent Councilman Ken Grassi led Carl Mollnow, a retired Air Force pilot, by a wide margin.

In the race for the open Position 5 seat on the council, human resources professional Denise McCluskey led Rose Ehart, the founder of a local food and clothing bank, in Tuesday night’s returns.

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