Residents of two of Tacoma's five council districts will have a new representative on Tacoma City Council as of January. Because of term limits, incumbents Connie Ladenburg in District 4 and Rick Talbert in District 5 will be leaving office at the end of the year. Voters had a chance to weigh in on term limits last year, when a measure was on the ballot calling for amending the Tacoma City Charter to do away with the current limitation on time in office. Tacomans clearly like having new faces on the council ingrained in the law of the town, as they rejected the ballot measure.
Both districts have six people, three in each race, aiming for the open seats. All bring unique qualities to the table, coming from varied backgrounds with varied perspectives.
Beckie Summers Kirby gets our endorsement in District 5, which encompasses the southern swath of the city and part of the East Side. Her experience makes her the best candidate. She has served on the Tacoma Library Board, Tacoma Civil Service Board and the city's Human Rights Commission.
Summers Kirby has considerable understanding of the ins and outs of municipal government. As someone who recently was laid off, Summers Kirby is going through the reality of tightening the belt, giving up some of the extras in life to focus on the necessities. That way of thinking needs to get a fresh reminder every now and then at city hall.
The council needs someone who is willing to step up to a challenge and not back down. Summers Kirby seems like she is up for the challenge. She has the confidence and experience needed on the council.
For District 4, which encompasses the majority of the East Side, our endorsement goes to Marty Campbell. One key attribute of Campbell is he owns two small businesses. Having the perspective of an entrepreneur on the council is fairly common in many cities, but it has become a rarity in Tacoma. Bill Evans was the last to fit this description, and he left office in 2007. Tacoma City Council has become almost entirely the domain of people who hold full-time employment in the public sector or non-profit organizations.
Campbell is chair of the Cross District Business Association, the umbrella organization for the city's neighborhood commercial areas. He has also served as chair of New Tacoma Neighborhood Council, giving him an appreciation of a revitalized downtown while realizing the residential neighborhoods cannot be put on the back burner.
His understanding of the role the arts play in the city's vitality is another plus. He helped found the Tacoma Film Club and is a booster of festivals and cultural activities.
His business experience could be best put to use. Campbell understands the importance of making his expenses stay within budget and also the impact of taxes on a business.
More than other candidates, Campbell draws a clear line between crime and economic development. The East Side deserves more businesses, both for the jobs they would create in an economically disadvantaged area, but also for the stabilizing effect they have on neighborhoods. Campbell knows entrepreneurs and corporations alike shy away from areas with a reputation for crime and gang activity.
Roxanne Murphy is enthusiastic about Tacoma and passionate about the East Side. She has insight into how city hall operates from her time working for the city. She could be a great council member in the near future.
Susanne Emily Marten clearly has the academic background to understand complex issues of municipal government, with a doctorate in public finance and policy analysis. But she lacks the visibility that Campbell has, both out in the neighborhoods and in the corridors of power downtown. Campbell's passion, experience and commitment make him the best choice.