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12 residents vie for seat on Lakewood City Council

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm with No Comments »
January 10, 2013 7:02 pm

A Port of Tacoma commissioner and former Lakewood city councilwoman are among a dozen people who applied for appointment to the Lakewood City Council seat that Mayor Doug Richardson is vacating.

The deadline for applications was 5 p.m. Thursday.

The council will meet Monday to discuss the next steps in making the appointment. They are scheduled to appoint someone on Feb. 4.

The candidates (in alphabetical order) are:

Connie Bacon has served a Port of Tacoma commissioner since 1997. She wrote her experience on three prior search committee can be valuable as Lakewood looks for a new city manager.

• Don Daniels is the chairman of the Lakewood Planning Advisory Board and former business owner who works for Mallory Safety and Supply. He’s a member of the Lakewood Rotary Club and other organizations.

• David Forte is a former associate planner for the city of Lakewood from 1997 to 2000 who now teaches at the Clover Park School District. He’s a former Army lieutenant who was stationed at Fort Lewis.

• Gary Fowler is the treasurer and business manager for the Lakewood Historical Society and Museum. He worked for 40 years for Weyerhaeuser and has served on Lakewood’s parks advisory board for nine years.

• Ria Johnson is an employee for Kids at Hope NW, which works with schools and community organizations to help at-risk youth succeed,  and serves on the board of Community Health Care in Tacoma.

• Helen McGovern is a former Lakewood City Council member  who was first elected in 2000 and served until 2009. She is the executive director of the Emergency Food Network.

Sam Ross has served on the city Public Safety Advisory Committee since 2008 and is a founding member of the North Lakewood Neighborhood Association. He is a lobbyist for the Washington Public Employees Association.

• Malcolm Russell is the president of Keep Lakewood Beautiful with 16 years of experience on the planning commissions of Tacoma and Pierce County.

• John Simpson is a history teacher at Pierce College and journalist for The Ranger newspaper. A retired Air Force Reserve major, he was temporarily appointed to council in 2003 when Richardson was called to military service.

• Sharon Taylor is a lifelong resident of Lakewood’s Tillicum neighborhood who serves on the board of directors for its neighborhood association. A department supervisor at Kohl’s, Taylor has volunteered on the city’s Community Development Block Grant advisory board for three years.

• Bryan Thomas is the chairman of the city’s Public Safety Advisory Committee and son of former Lakewood Mayor Claudia Thomas

Levi Wilhelmsen is a member of the city’s Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee and served on a Pierce Transit citizen advisory board. He manages servers for the state Department of Licensing.

The rush of applicants for Richardson’s seat was in stark contrast to the last time a council position was up for grabs. There wasn’t a single contested race for the three seats up for election in 2011.

Asked about this difference, Councilman Don Anderson explained it’s an simpler route to seek a council seat by appointment rather by trying to win over voters.

“Filling out an application is a lot easier than subjecting yourself to the election process, raising money and campaigning,” he said. “You don’t even have to fill your financial forms until you’re selected.”

At Monday’s meeting, the council also expected to begin its discussion about hiring Lakewood’s third city manager in its nearly 17-year history. City Manager Andrew Neiditz was selected Wednesday to head Pierce County’s new emergency dispatch agency and is expected to leave city employment in late February if there are no delays in his contract negotiations.

Voters elected Richardson, the last member of the original City Council seated shortly before Lakewood incorporated in February 1996, to the Pierce County Council in November.

The council selects one of its members to serve as mayor so it will pick a new one when Richardson leaves. His last day is Tuesday.

You’re invited to follow Christian Hill on Twitter @TNTchill.

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