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.
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.”)
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.)
|NP – Jim Merritt||
|NP – Marilyn Strickland||