Incumbent Joyce McDonald seeks re-election to her District 2 position on Pierce County Council. A Republican, she was elected in 2008. She previously served five terms in Washington State House of Representatives. Republican (J.R.) Wikane is challenging her. He is a professional auctioneer. Wikane has served on the board of directors of Western Washington Auctioneers Association and as president of Puyallup Parent Teacher Association. The other candidate is Edgewood Mayor Jeff Hogan, a Republican with a background in commercial real estate property management.
Q) What makes you the best candidate for this position?
McDonald: I currently serve as chair of the council and have already made tough decisions and balanced our budget without increasing the tax burden on our county’s hard-working families. My five terms as a state representative prepared me to make sound, common sense decisions on behalf of the citizens of Pierce County. My collaborative leadership style allows me to work well with council members, the executive, prosecutor, sheriff and other elected leaders throughout the county and makes for government that serves the people best.
I have a proven effective, efficient and common sense work ethic and have been recognized as Legislator of the Year twice by police officers, and received the Public Safety Award, Pierce County Cooperative Cities Police Chiefs. I also received the Women of Influence Award from the Business Examiner.
Wikane: I feel I am the best candidate due to the fact I am not a career politician and can relate more closely with the everyday citizen.
Hogan: I am the most experienced and best qualified to create jobs and improve our economy. As mayor of Edgewood, I have focused on improving core services like public safety, while bringing a fiscally responsible approach to city government. As a small business owner, it is my job to help other businesses cut through bureaucracy and red tape. If we are serious about improving our economy and creating family-wage jobs, then the county has to do more to allow the private sector to grow. I will advocate for long-term planning to improve our business climate while protecting our environment for generations to come.
Q) The county government has done much to reduce spending in the last few years as a result of the recession. Do you think there will be more significant cuts in the near future? What would you cut?
McDonald: I think there will be more cuts in the coming year. Sales tax revenue for the first half of 2012 is down significantly. I will support continuing the 0 percent cost of living allowance for all employees and focus cuts in areas that have the least direct impact on the people of Pierce County, such as Information Technology and Human Resources. I will maintain public safety as a priority to ensure that our families are safe in their homes, their schools and in their neighborhoods.
Wikane: Funny, when things are tight this council says where do we cut; reallocation and restructure of different programs are sometimes all you need to do. Stop and take a good look at what comes in and what goes out. This is where a businessman comes in handy.
Hogan: I believe that the County Council and Councilmember McDonald have focused on making cuts and raising taxes rather than fixing the real issue of getting people back to work. If we create jobs and attract new businesses, that helps grow the tax base and reduce or eliminate the need for cuts and tax increases. In addition to creating jobs I will focus on better fiscal management. That means scrutinizing each project and crafting a budget for the long term. I will use my education in business administration, as well as my years of experience in both the public and private sectors as a mayor and business owner, to bring about a more fiscally responsible budget.
Q) Are there ways you think county government can work more closely with other local and regional governments?
McDonald: I have close relationships with leaders in local and regional government and have taken the time to reach out to local cities, community groups, businesses and families in my district and will continue to do so. I serve on the Pierce County Regional Council and the Puget Sound Regional Council, where local and regional leaders come together to discuss issues that are locally and regionally significant. I think communication is extremely important and I will continue to reach out to council members and community leaders, especially in the new areas that have recently been re-districted into my council district – Sumner, Milton, Edgewood and Lakeland.
Wikane: Pierce County Council and local governments, for a lack of better words, should be in bed together. Not just knowing their names and how they take their coffee. We need to know their every concern and worries, and you can only learn that by getting out of the office and into the trenches and start digging.
Hogan: As mayor of Edgewood, I can say that there are many more ways the county can work closely with local and regional governments. The county needs to do a better job planning for the long term so that local governments do not get penalized for being proactive. For example, the City of Puyallup was a leader in retrofitting their emergency 911 system. When the Pierce County Council decided to upgrade the system to the entire county, Puyallup got penalized and had to pay for the system twice. That could have been avoided with better long-term planning and communication from the council.
Q) What else should voters know about you?
McDonald: I am a strong supporter of representative government and believe I am elected to represent the people of Pierce County while they are at their jobs and working hard to support their families and their communities. Government is not about me – it should always be about government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
I have been endorsed by Attorney General Rob McKenna, State Auditor Brian Sonntag, County Executive Pat McCarthy, Sheriff Paul Pastor, State Representative Bruce Dammeier, State Representative Hans Zeiger, Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow, Sumner Police Chief John Galle and Pierce County Councilmembers Dan Roach and Dick Muri.
Wikane: That I am just like them. I am not looking for my seventh term in politics. I would like to serve one or two terms and then make way for new and fresh ideas.
Hogan: I am a lifetime resident of Edgewood. It is where my wife Kristin and I have raised our three daughters. I love our community and I want to make it safer and more economically vibrant for this generation and the next. I am committed to giving back and have served as chair of Pierce County Cities and Towns Association, member of Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, Zoo and Trek Authority, MultiCare Good Samaritan Regional Oversight Board and a volunteer with Puyallup Fair Rodeo. I am also a former girls soccer and softball coach.
Q) What is Pierce County Council’s biggest challenge?
McDonald: The downturn in the economy is a big challenge. We need a healthy business climate so that good companies will want to locate in Pierce County and in turn provide solid, family-wage jobs close to home. Although revenue is down, governments at all levels still need to live within our means, just like our families do every day. Thankfully, the council and executive saw hard times coming and cut spending where necessary to ensure that Pierce County government was sound.
Wikane: Getting our residents back to work. Pierce County can do a lot to build a stronger work force, but again it takes 20 years of running my own company to understand this. Example: work to streamline building permit process and offer incentives for builders who employ a large work force, but do not stop there. Seek out larger companies and make it attractive for them do business in Pierce County
Hogan: The biggest issue facing Pierce County is job creation and economic development. I know how to create jobs because that’s exactly what I’ve done as a small business owner. My day job is helping businesses to create new infrastructure so that they can open their doors to the public, providing important services to our communities and increasing our tax base by creating jobs.