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Battle of endorsements raging in Pierce County Council 7th District race

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Aug. 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
August 9, 2010 2:40 pm

At least one candidate in the highly competitive race for the 7th District seat on the Pierce County Council is feeling stung by Councilmember Terry Lee’s support for PenMet Parks Commissioner Bill Sehmel.

Some candidates, meanwhile, areĀ  loudly trumpeting fresh endorsements from well-knowns in Gig Harbor and Fircrest/University Place. The district straddles The Narrows.

Former state Reps. Tom Huff and Gig Talcott, both Republicans, endorsed Randy Boss late last week. Huff described Boss as “tenacious, thorough, knowledgeable and effective regarding issues he felt very strongly about.” Boss’ experience would serve taxpayers well, Huff said.

Retired Peninsula School District Superintendent Jim Coolican, is supporting Democrat Betty Ringlee. Ringlee is intelligent and organized and “approaches each situation looking for the best solution,” Coolican wrote in a letter to editor that was published in Sunday’s News Tribune.

News of Boss’ and Ringlee’s latest support came after Lee’s backing of Sehmel but both camps said the endorsements had been in the works.

Other candidates’ endorsements aren’t new, but they could gain more importance now.

Democrat Todd Iverson’s website cites support from a number of state and local officials, including State Sen. Derek Kilmer, and several members of the Gig Harbor and Tacoma City Councils.

Republican Stan Flemming lists endorsements from sitting Pierce County Council members Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, and Sean Bunney, R-Lake Tapps, and two University Place City Councilmembers among his endorsers.

But it’s Lee’s letter of support for fellow Republican Sehmel that raised eyebrows and injected some buzz into the race last week.

Lee said last Monday he didn’t think he would endorse anyone in the Aug. 17 primary, praising all eight in the field of candidates to replace him.

But on Tuesday, at Sehmel’s request, Lee wrote a letter to the Peninsula Gateway, laudingĀ  Sehmel’s dedication to the community and ability to pay attention to detail “while grasping the big picture.”

“The voters of the 7th District, from whichever side of the bridge, could do well by having Bill Sehmel represent them,” Lee’s letter concluded.

Lee told The News Tribune last week he didn’t mean the letter to be construed as “a formal endorsement” and said he was surprised to see a headline reading: “Lee endorses Bill Sehmel to take his position on the County Council.”

He wrote the letter, he said, to honor a request from a longtime friend.

Lee said he could see how some people were confused after he’d said he didn’t plan to endorse anyone, but he added viewed his letter as something short of what most people think of as an endorsement.

Boss’ campaign cried foul, saying Lee previously said he wasn’t going to endorse anyone in the primary. The Boss camp also chastised The News Tribune for mentioning Lee’s support of Sehmel – but omitting Huff’s and Talcott’s endorsement of Boss – in a story published Sunday about the race

One online commenter to The News Tribune’s story complained about the slight, too. Others wondered about Lee’s last-minute support of Sehmel.

Also in the 7th District race are Democrat Chuck West, Republicans Larry Wingard and independent: John Picinich.

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