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Category: University Place


As election season approaches, a dearth of open seats for Lakewood, UP city councils

Nearly all the incumbents up for election on the Lakewood and University Place city councils will run for new four-year terms.

With filing week less than three weeks away, just one newcomer has stepped forward in either city so far. Don Daniels, chairman of the Lakewood Planning Advisory Board, announced he is running for the seat that Councilwoman Helen McGovern will vacate near the end of the year.

Daniels was one of 11 other candidates to apply to fill the council seat vacated by former Mayor Doug Richardson, but the council picked McGovern, who served on the council previously, in

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UPDATE: Malcolm Russell announces campaign for 28th District House (but not necessarily the suddenly open seat)

UPDATE _ Malcolm Russell’s campaign adviser Alex Hays says he may not run for the open seat but might file against Democratic incumbent Tami Green.

“The release from Malcolm did not specify a seat – deliberately.

“Paul Wageman may move over to the open seat (he has yet to decide) and if he does, Malcolm will run against Tami.”

Here is the original post…

A Pierce County planning commissioner today became the first candidate to respond to this week’s surprising news that Troy Kelley would run for state Auditor.

Malcolm Russell of Lakewood announced that he would seek the seat in the Washington House of Representatives that Kelley will vacate. That is position No. 1 from the 28th Legislative District.

Russell will run as a Republican.

Malcolm Russell

“The recent special session shows us how dysfunctional the majority Democrats have become, unable to adopt reasonable reforms and balance a state budget,” Russell said in an announcement Friday. “Olympia is broken and our only hope of repairing state government is to elect centrist leaders willing to make tough decisions.”

Russell said his priorities will be public education, government reform and promoting local job creation.

“We deserve a well-run, efficient government that is more innovative and spends tax dollars wisely,” said Russell.

Russell is a member of the Lakewood Public Safety Advisory Board, is the chair of the Pierce County Planning Commission and the new president of Keep Lakewood Beautiful. He previously served on the Tacoma Planning Commission.

Russell’s great grandfather is architect Ambrose Russell, his grandfather is Admiral James Russell (USN) and his father his Captain Ken Russell (USN).

Here is Russell’s statement Read more »


Primary results posted shortly after 8 p.m. Tacoma, U Place councils; school races in Tacoma, Puyallup and Bethel top the ballot

Pierce County elections staffers say they expect to post the first results for today’s primary election shortly after 8 p.m. We’ll post them here as soon as possible, followed by separate blog posts on the handful of local races that have enough candidates to require a primary. There will be a later update around 9:15 p.m.when ballots cast at five voting centers will arrive at the elections center. But those won’t add significantly to the totals tonight.

Tacoma’s open council seat tops the list with four candidates competing for two spots on the general election ballot. There are also more

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UPDATE: Pierce County districting committee – and council members – wait for THE map

All of the maps produced so far by Pierce County districting committee “master” Steven Garrett have been works in progress.

At least four times the geographer hired to produce new county council districts based on the 2010 Census has drawn maps that both redivide the county’s nearly 800,000 people and keep communities with common interests together. Each map in the sequence has been in response to concerns raised by the five-member committee or residents who attended a series of public hearings around the county.

But now, it’s for real. By June 28 Garrett must submit THE map. It is that map that triggers a two-week period in which the committee can amend it or approve it. But it takes four votes to amend it and three to approve it. If the committee does neither, the map is deemed approved and will govern county elections for the next decade – baring a successful legal challenge.

The committee isn’t scheduled to meet again until July 12, the evening before its deadline to act.

So what will that map look like? Based on Wednesday evening’s second-to-last meeting of the committee, that is the fundamental question. There was no consensus for changes so the final version may well look a lot like Garrett’s most-recent map – known as Map D. And if that is the case, then Republicans are likely to be unhappy with the final result.

Map D for Pierce County Districting

Two incumbent Republicans on the council are not in their current districts in Map D. Seventh District Councilmember Stan Flemming, who lives in University Place, would be in District 6 under the most-recent iteration. The Gig Harbor peninsula would once again become partnered with West and North Tacoma, a pairing that occurred after the seven-member council was created in 1981, after the first redistricting in 1982 and again after the 1990 Census. Read more »


Pierce County districting links: maps, history and past blog posts

I write a bit today about the ongoing redistricting of Pierce County’s seven council districts (the charter uses the term “districting” even if it actually RE-districting).

Since the story is best told with maps, here is a link to the most-recent map as well as some previous versions.

Also, here are links to previous Political Buzz posts on the topic.

June 17 – Pierce Districting Committee gets Map D:

June 12 – Redistricting maps carve up Pierce County in different ways.

June 8 – Latest iteration of Pierce County district lines posted

May 27 –

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Pierce Districting Committee gets Map D: Proposed 7th District puts much of Tacoma with Gig Harbor peninsula

Now it’s all about University Place.

The fourth formal iteration of new Pierce County council districts was presented Thursday night to the appointed Districting Committee. And depending on who was speaking, it is either the best plan presented so far or a shotgun marriage between urban and suburban areas.

Leading the opposition was Pierce County Councilman Stan Flemming who found out after he arrived at the Gig Harbor City Hall meeting that he would no longer live in his current district, No. 7.

“The map has been redesigned at the expense of the people of the 7th District,” Flemming told the committee. “This map addresses all of the concerns of the citizens of the other districts and has completely ignored the concerns of the people of the 7th District.”

Not only did Flemming object to U Place being in the 6th with Lakewood, he argued that Fircrest has nothing in common with Tacoma and should not be in 4th with South and east Tacoma.

Map D for Pierce County Districting

Steven Garrett, the geographer hired as the committee’s districting master, said he must include about 40,000 on the west side of the Narrows to make up a district. His choice is to go north into Tacoma or south into University Place. Since there is some precedent for the district to combine the peninsula with Tacoma and because that allowed the other fixes he was asked to make, he followed that path. Read more »


Pierce County courthouse rumor about political interference with districting committee was a good one (except that it wasn’t true)

Had I heard what Pierce County Council Chairman Roger Bush had done? Had I heard the chairman was concerned that Republican incumbents were being drawn out of their districts and wanted changes made? Had I heard that he summoned the appointed Districting Committee master to go over the proposed districts?

No, I hadn’t heard about that. If true, it would be a problem because while the Pierce County Charter doesn’t use the word “Independent,” it is sort of assumed that the committee that redraws county council districts should be insulated from the politicians.

The committee isn’t non-partisan so much as it is bipartisan. There are two Republicans and two Democrats who then appoint a chair. And since it takes three votes to approve a plan (and four votes to amend maps presented by the appointed master) cooperation is required.

I left a message for Bush and called committee Chairwoman Karen Seinfeld. She wasn’t aware of any meetings between master Steven Garrett and Bush. The committee has had three public hearings and has heard about some concerns with early maps. In each case the committee asked Garrett to find solutions, which he has.

For example, an early draft split Summit and Waller. It also placed Steilacoom, Ketron Island and Anderson Island in a district with Gig Harbor when local leaders thought it fit better with Lakewood and University Place.

While Seinfeld said she isn’t focused on “incumbent protection,” the committee would entertain concerns by elected council members about how new districts effect them. But the proper setting is a public hearing. That’s where Councilmember Dick Muri appeared to talk about the Steilacoom issue.

I reached Garrett Friday afternoon to ask him about the rumored meeting with Bush. He said he wondered why it had taken me so long to call since he too had heard the rumors.

Only one thing. They aren’t true. Garrett said he doesn’t think he has ever met Roger Bush and certainly didn’t spend hours meeting with him about districting plans.

“If such a request came my way, I would decline,” Garrett said. “I’d be uncomfortable with it.” Council members “have a stake in the result, as does the public. They’re welcome to come to the hearings.” Read more »


Merger of Lakewood, UP fire districts winning approval

Lakewood residents were voting overwhelmingly to dissolve their 70-year-old fire district and merge operations with the University Place Fire Department, according to preliminary returns tonight.

If approved, West Pierce Fire & Rescue would become operational March 1.

Lakewood Fire Chief Ken Sharp would become chief of the new agency. University Place Fire Chief Mitch Sagers would become the deputy chief.

The proposed merger is driven by efficiency. Fire districts rely heavily on property taxes, and these two faced a collective $1.5 million shortfall this year due to the drop in assessed values.

The merger would erase that deficit by eliminating vacant administrative positions, postponing wage increases negotiated by the districts’ five labor unions and saving on supplies.

There would be no reduction in service, officials said.

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