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Tacoma mayor’s race: Strickland prepares agenda, Merritt prepares a new campaign

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Nov. 9, 2009 at 5:44 pm with 7 Comments »
November 9, 2009 5:49 pm

Even before this evening’s ballot counts showed Marilyn Strickland expanding her lead over Jim Merritt yet again (tonight she gained 10 votes, putting her up by 1,100), both candidates recently detailed to me their plans for the aftermath of what’s now Strickland’s inevitable victory.

Marilyn Strickland
Marilyn Strickland

Today, Strickland told me of an impressive priorities’ list she’ll take with her to the mayor’s office that includes a number of economic and education initiatives.

Among other things, Strickland said she’ll seek to reduce Tacoma’s B&O taxes; look to grow the city as a science-technology hub; enhance marketing of the city as an urban college town; and appoint a mayoral task force on education to seek ways to garner more public education dollars and improve student achievement in the classroom.

“I have big plans,” Strickland said.

Meanwhile, Merritt told me during a lengthy phone call on Sunday that while he hasn’t formally conceded the race, he is under no delusions that he’ll win.

(Merritt, by the way, said he doesn’t understand the concept of concessions. “I don’t understand conceding or not conceding,” he said. “If you count the votes and it seems like there’s absolutely no question, then it’s a done deal. But I like to play the game out. That’s my competitive nature.”)

Jim Merritt
Jim Merritt

While Merritt said he expects to congratulate Strickland in the coming days (Strickland told me as of Monday afternoon, she had yet to receive his call), he’ll also undertake a new campaign: Winning an appointment to fill one of two council seats soon to be vacated in the coming weeks.

With Councilwoman Julie Anderson winning her race and heading to the Pierce Co. Auditor’s Office later this month, and Strickland moving to the mayor’s office in January, the council will be tasked with making appointments to fill out both remaining terms, each with about two years remaining. I wrote about the potential vacancies in the newspaper last week.

Merritt said he is interested in either open seat, noting that his run for mayor was never about himself, but about making Tacoma a better city.  “I think I can still help and be of value,” he said.

Check out my story in tomorrow’s paper for more.

And, for anyone out there who is still bean counting, Monday night’s ballot results are detailed below.

The latest results were mere window-dressing to the reality of a Strickland victory that emerged with last Friday’s ballot count, and only solidified by another tally Saturday breaking heavily toward Strickland.

The initially tight mayor’s race, which had Merritt chipping Strickland’s wafer-thin lead to just 117 votes at the close Wednesday’s ballot counts, changed course suddenly and surely as the week wore on.

With surges both Thursday and Friday, successive counts put Strickland up by more than 700 votes going into the weekend – and all but put Merritt away. Strickland’s lead widened further to a 1,090-vote margin on Saturday.

(Pierce County now estimates it still has 6,500 votes to count. If this year’s trends hold, that means about 1,560 Tacoma votes remain to be counted, of which Merritt would have to win more than 70 percent to pull out a miracle — a “Hail Merritt”? — in the race.)

Tacoma Mayor
NP – Jim Merritt



NP – Marilyn Strickland






Over Votes


Under Votes


Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. jimkingjr says:

    Strickland was elected to be a figurehead, chair council meetings, cut ribbons, make some appointments. She will not be administering city government. It looks like she really did run for the wrong job.

    And in these days of tight budgets, if the city actually does cut b&o taxes, what other taxes will be raised and/or expenditures cut? I’m not holding my breathe for the tax cut.

  2. Good start.

    Reducing or eliminating the B&O city tax is critical if Tacoma is ever going to stop businesses from continuing to leave the city for outside and the and to Fife.

  3. GOPGirl says:

    The mayor of Tacoma is an inactive role, the council makes the rules and regs of the city. I’m interested to see how Jim is planning on getting appointed to an empty council seat. But if he try wants to change Tacoma for the better, that’s the place to be.

  4. the3rdpigshouse says:

    The current city council has done very little to enhance Tacoma – the current council together with its predecessors gave us the high-density concentration of shoddy 12ft wide homes you see contaminating every respectable neighborhood!! Jim and the current council members have a lot to do to fix that mess!!

  5. tree_guy says:

    “Strickland prepares agenda”

    More like the city labor unions will prepare an agenda. Strickland’s just going to announce it.

  6. Tree_Guy

    All you have to do is look at Marilyn’s PDC reports to know that she is backed by a TON of unions who funded her, heavily so. I hate to think of the way the city will be run. Not all unions are bad, but I fear that special interests will be asking for their piece of the pie soon enough…

    If Jim does get a Council seat, I know that he does have the vision to see Tacoma as the shining gem it can be- and I think its too bad that the votes are trending towards Marilyn, but perhaps a place on the council, when Jim is in the trenches, making real policy changes, and having his voice heard, is just the thing for Tacoma.

  7. How, exactly, do you think the General Fund is going to stay solvent without the B&O Tax? First that goes, then we lower or abolish Utility Taxes, Admissions Tax, etc. The money has to come from somewhere so cheering at the crazy idea that we can stop one funding source with out adding another is ridiculous.

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