Former Tacoma mayoral candidate and architect Jim Merritt announced this week he’s running for the Legislature.
Merritt, who was defeated by Marilyn Strickland in a close race for Tacoma mayor in 2009, joins Tacoma City Councilman Jake Fey as the only declared candidates so far vying for the soon-to-be-vacated 27th District Position 2 House seat.
“This is something I do have a passion for – helping our community,” Merritt told me Tuesday. “And the 27th, that’s where I’m at. That’s where I grew up. As an architect, there’s a special expertise I bring, as far as problem-solving and finding common-ground solutions that are necessary, particularly at the state level.”
Merritt said he announced his candidacy at the 27th District Democrats’ meeting on Monday. He plans to issue a press release later today (I’ll update the post with it when he does). Merritt will file formal candidacy paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission within the next 10 days, he added.
Merritt’s bid in the 27th is the latest political domino to fall in the wake of Sen. Debbie Regala‘s announcement that she’ll retire later this year. Rep. Jeannie Darneille has since announced she’ll vacate her House seat to run for Regala’s Senate seat — a contest that also has drawn Tacoma trial lawyer Jack Connelly and frequent candidate/criminal defendant Robert Jesse Hill so far as candidates.
Darneille’s decision, in turn, prompted Fey to run – and now Merritt’s bid — for the 27th. The soon-to-be redrawn legislative district includes most of Tacoma, Ruston, Fife and parts of Pierce County.
Here’s the press release on Merritt’s candidacy:
For Immediate Release: Jim Merritt announces candidacy for 27thLD Pos 2 House of Representatives, Democrat
January 24, 2012–Jim Merritt today announced his intention to run for 27th LD House, Pos. 2 The 27th LD includes much of the City of Tacoma, Ruston, a portion of Fife and Pierce County.
Merritt, a nationally recognized architect with his Tacoma-based architectural firm, is responsible for such high-profile projects as the restoration of Tacoma Union Station and the Cable Stay “welcoming” Bridge. He made his decision to run for the House after meeting with citizens, educators, elected officials, and members of the local business community. “I feel that my 30 years of private business sector experience will provide expertise much needed in the House. We must strive for enhanced communication involving both sides of the aisle.”
Merritt feels that supporting local businesses and the jobs they create is a very important part of his reason for running. “Seeking local talent must be followed in the 27th LD and state wide to ensure we are investing in and nurturing the labor force and talents we already have. When we follow this approach, our number of jobs will grow. Recognizing that small business is a driving force of our economy, we must secure policies that will make us “business friendly”. This will create and develop a streaming source of jobs that will revive our declining middle class with family wage jobs.”
Merritt believes that mentoring programs must become prolific in this tough economy.
“I have mentored many youth through my basketball coaching years in the Hilltop and saw the difference it could make in a young person’s life. We must find solutions to reverse the cuts in education on the state level that will resound in the 27th LD”
Merritt feels strongly that the safety net for the less fortunate must be strengthened and protected. Merritt states: “We must all work together as a community to ensure those less fortunate then ourselves our well taken care of today and in the future.”
Jim Merritt attended the University of Washington, graduating first in his class in the UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He and his wife Claudia live in Tacoma. They have three grown children and two grandsons.