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Tag: Tacoma Mayor


The most expensive Tacoma mayor’s race in history*

(*At least according to readily available campaign finance records.)

pdc_logoThe latest campaign contribution filings by Tacoma mayoral candidates Marilyn Strickland and Jim Merritt show that collectively, the candidates have broken the $290,000 mark heading into Election Day.

Specifically, Strickland has garnered $146,237.38 ($118k in cash, $99k spent) to Merritt’s $144,250.96 ($118k cash, $126k spent).

The figures could mean that this is the most expensive Tacoma mayoral race in city history.Money bags

I say “could” because campaign finance records on the Public Disclosure Commission‘s Web site only go back to 2001.  Detailed campaign contribution reports of any race prior to that consist of paper records that are archived by the Olympia-based commission.
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Phantom mailer burns Merritt with false claims in last days of Tacoma mayor’s race

Jim Merritt’s campaign is fuming over an apparently illegal direct-mail political advertisement that showed up in the mailboxes of Northeast Tacoma homes today.Merritt

“This is one of the rottenest hit pieces I’ve ever seen,” said Merritt campaign manager Ronnie Bush.

I just got off the phone with Marilyn Strickland, who said she knew nothing about the ad and that it didn’t come from her campaign.


The mailer claims that because Merritt has already publicly stated his position against a controversial housing development planned for the North Shore golf course, he won’t be able to cast a vote on the issue if he’s elected.

“If Jim Merritt is Mayor, the developer will challenge his `objectivity’ and Mr. Merritt will be removed from the hearing,” the mailer states. “He’ll lose his voice, and his vote.

“Why? Because Mr. Merritt keeps stating his opinion, and so he’ll be considered `prejudiced’ when the Council hears the case.”

The ad cites the “appearance of fairness doctrine” as the governing law on the issue. The law precludes members of decision-making bodies from publicly staking a position on land use decisions before such issues are officially considered.

The development, which has been challenged by a citizens’ group representing hundreds or Northeast Tacoma residents, is now before a city hearing examiner. Ultimately, the hearing examiner’s decision will go before the city council.

Bush claims that she’s checked with an attorney, who has told her that the mailer’s claims are false — Merritt could vote on the issue. A relevant part of state law appears to back up her claim (as does Strickland herself).
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KBTC public TV cancels broadcast of mayoral interviews due to perceptions of bias

After scheduling in-studio interviews with both candidates, and actually interviewing one of them, management for Tacoma public television station KBTC scotched plans to broadcast a special Q&A program with City of Tacoma mayoral candidates Jim Merritt and Marilyn Strickland. kbtcexploreblk

The reason? The potential for the appearance of journalistic bias, station officials say.

“We finally came to the decision that airing this program just didn’t feel right or wouldn’t look right,” said Dave Hinman, the station’s new general manager, in a conference call with me yesterday. “We want to be completely above reproach.”

More specifically, apparent conflicts of interest involving the program’s interviewer/moderator, Stan Rumbaugh, with the Strickland campaign became too dicey from an appearance standpoint for KBTC management. Although station managers said they made the judgment call to veto the broadcast on their own, the decision came shortly after Merritt’s camp raised concerns that, as his campaign manager put it, the interview program was “a set up worse than Little Big Horn.”

It all happened last week — after Merritt and his campaign manager, Ronnie Bush, showed up at KBTC studios to find Rumbaugh sitting in the interviewer’s chair.
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McCarthy: “I guess I just changed my mind” about mayor’s race

Among the campaign money streaming into the Tacoma mayor’s race in the final weeks before Election Day are two intriguing donations recently made to candidate Marilyn Strickland.

The first: $200 contributed on September 16 by a Patrice McCarthy of Tacoma. The second: $100 given six days later by Keri Rawlings-Rooney of University Place.

mcCarthy2This afternoon, I confirmed that the former donation was made by none other than Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy (Strickland’s campaign contribution report lists only the words “info. requested” under the “Employer’s name/occupation” field for McCarthy’s donation).

Meanwhile, McCarthy’s executive director of external affairs, Keri Rooney, has not yet returned a phone call or email this afternoon to confirm she is responsible for the latter contribution (though the name and address provided on Strickland’s report for that donation indicate that Rooney, in fact, is).

What makes each of these campaign donations intriguing is a purported spat between McCarthy and mayoral candidate Jim Merritt’s campaign that recently became public.
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Strickland: Education by community

Last night, I followed Tacoma mayoral candidate Marilyn Strickland to the Hilltop, where she participated in a meeting of the Tacoma City Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.

My tagging along at the candidate’s heels is part of the reporting I’m doing for an eventual profile of the city’s mayoral candidates. I previously blogged about candidate Jim Merritt, following him during a meeting to spur along a grassroots effort seeking to change Sound Transit’s commuter rail designs for the Dome District.Strickland in school

Technically, Strickland’s meeting last night wasn’t about her mayoral campaign, but it  directly ties in with one of her primary campaign issues: Education.

As a member of the association, Strickland was on hand to participate in a planning session for its new parent-mentoring program this year. Called the “McCarver Moms Parenting Support Program,” it seeks to provide a support network for parents of students at historically struggling McCarver Elementary, and help them to be better prepared in everything from assisting their kids with homework, to improving parent-child interpersonal relationships at home.

The idea is that by helping McCarver parents with various life skills, the mentoring program, in turn, will have a positive impact on child achievement in the classroom.
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An `endorsement’ by any other name …

Adorning the endorsement rolls on the campaign websites of Tacoma mayoral candidates Marilyn Strickland and Jim Merritt is the same prominent name: Booth Gardner.GovGardner

The former Washington governor and Tacoma resident is heralded as a top supporter by both campaigns.  He’s the first name atop a long list of familiar names on Strickland’s site, and at the top of Merritt’s endorsement page, which prominently proclaimed (as of this morning) in bold letters:

We are honored to have the endorsement of former Governor Booth Gardner.

So which campaign can truly stake claim to Gardner’s endorsement?

Well, both — and by logical extension, neither.
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