Wednesday, June 28, 2017 This Week's Paper

Residents join the conversation for city council candidate selection

The Tacoma City Council Study Session at noon Tuesday might have physically taken place at City Hall, but it reached the council chambers with social media folks putting their own thoughts on the issue at hand.

Feed Tacoma founder Kevin Freitas hosted a twitter discussion, while local political cartoonist RR Anderson crafted a caricature ballot of the candidates for people to use to vote for their favorite, although the actual decision rested with the City Council. The Twitter feed transcript can be found using hastag #TacomaD2 or at

The candidates were seeking appointment to the District 2 council seat vacated by Jake Fey, who has left the council for a chair in the House of Representatives in Olympia. The council selected Robert Thoms later that night.

Thoms is a Navy Reserve officer, a former deputy state director for Democratic U.S. Sen.†Maria Cantwell and a principal of the Navigation Group, a consulting and lobbying firm that specializes in federal departments.

Council members selected Thoms because of his military and federal government knowledge that they hope to tap to tighten bonds between Tacoma and Joint Base Lewis McChord as well as to help find federal funding for major projects in the city.

If there is a runner up in the race, it would have been Patricia Lecy-Davis, owner of Embellish Multispace Salon. A member of several business development committees, she also found her name on the short list for council appointment in 2009. Members of the council praised her for her dedication to the city and her ability to find common ground with diverse groups. But in the end, the potential of strengthening ties to the growing military bases won out with a unanimous vote.

Other candidates for the appointment were:

  • Monica Hunter-Alexander, a sergeant at the Washington State Patrol and former business owner.

  • Philip Cowan, executive director of the Grand Cinema. He spoke via phone because he was at a conference in Utah concerning the digital shift of the movie industry. He is not a stranger to the council being that he was listed as a finalist for a council appointment in 2009.

  • David DíAniello, proprietor of Celebrity Cake Studio and Bethel School District teacher.

  • Carolyn Edmonds, a Windermere Real Estate broker who also sought a council appointment in 2009. Edmonds served as a Washington State Representative and as a member of the King County Council when she lived in Shoreline before moving to Tacoma.

  • Jon Higley, a retired public school teacher and founder of conservative political group The Tacoma 9/12 Project . He mounted an unsuccessful run for the State Representative in 2010.

Each candidate was able to make opening statements before fielding questions from the council that centered on their strengthens and the challenges facing the district that spans parts of downtown and the tideflats.

At the end of the interviews, the council went into an executive session to discuss applicant qualifications. And, at the 5 p.m. council meeting later that day, a motion was made for Council consideration to appoint Thoms to the vacant position. Council members receive an annual salary of $41,269 for their part-time position with the city.

This job might only be part-time but it has full-time expectations, City Councilmember David Boe said, echoing what other council members said about that appreciation for all of the candidates who sought the position.

Also on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting was Resolution No. 38603 that formally accepted grants from the Federal Highway Administration, in the amount of $2,194,196, and the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board in the amount of $1,495,500. These funds ñ a cumulative total of $3,689,696 ñ are earmarked for asphalt overlay and other improvements on South Tacoma Way from South 43rd to South 47th streets, and from South 56th to South 66th streets.

Resolution No. 38605, on the agenda as well, declared 28,000-square-feet of city-owned property located at 1199 Dock St., currently leased to Johnny's Seafood, as surplus that can then be sold to Pacific Seafood Washington Acquisition Co., Inc. for $700,000.

The deal has been in development for about a year and a half. The $1.5 million redevelopment of the site is being designed by GeoEngineers of Tacoma with construction set to begin soon. The general use of the site will not change from its seafood sale history, although plans call for a restaurant located on the site as well.

Pacific Seafood has also wanted to take over the hatchery on Clarkís Creek last year but pulled out after community members and politicians questioned the fish-for-lease payment terms and the impact the expanded hatchery would have on educational programs and fish production. The Department of Fish and Wildlife has given a newly formed group time to ponder different options for the site, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places and working its way through the local designation process.