Election ‘13: Tacoma Weekly queries candidates on the ballot for the general election in November.

// Incumbent Thoms faces Lecy-Davis for Tacoma City Council

Robert Thoms and Patricia Lecy-Davis are campaigning for Position #2 on the Tacoma City Coucil, which represents downtown and North Tacoma. The election is Nov. 5. Their written responses are unedited.

Robert Thoms (incumbent by council appointment)

What neighborhood issues do you see as your top concerns for your district and what plans do you have to champion them?

I have worked extensively with all my District’s fantastic neighborhood councils – North End, Northeast Tacoma, and New Tacoma – to bring voice and leadership to their concerns. After doorbelling thousands of doors, I’ve learned that Tacomans’ concerns span from the block level to the city and beyond. In the Northeast, I most frequently hear about infrastructure and protection of the Northshore Golf Course. In the North End, the most frequently-cited concerns are road quality and public safety. Downtown, among both residents and businesses, there is great interest about planning for future growth.

I have taken these concerns head-on. I spearheaded the creation of Tacoma’s first Transportation Master Plan, and corresponding Transportation Commission, to develop a long-term, strategic plan for everything from roads to bicycle lanes to buses to regional transit infrastructure (e.g., Sound Transit and Amtrak). I lead an initiative to standardize speed limits in school zones, an important public safety measure I heard numerous times along with crosswalks. I championed the “local preference” ordinance, supporting our Tacoma-owned businesses by including a “locality factor” when the City awards contracts. I use my extensive experience to translate the concerns I hear from my constituents to lasting, effective processes and policies.

What do you see as your role as a district council member in regards to city-wide issues, particularly if they are at odds?

My leadership belief is a vision for all of Tacoma. I believe the challenges and opportunities usually require larger vision that isn’t district specific. Especially when promoting growing our economy and jobs, both vital for Tacoma’s ability to succeed in the future. However, where there are issues very specific to District 2 (e.g., fighting to protect Fire Station 13, or permits for business and UWT growth) I will always ensure District 2 is well-represented to receive the necessary attention and investments we deserve. I am proud of my businesses and neighbor’s leadership and ideas that support our entire City.

What experience and perspectives do you bring to the council and how do they match (or clash) with other members of the council?

I have over 20 years of policy and leadership experience at the federal and state level. My experience and has proven extremely beneficial for Tacoma as I worked on issues like establishing the Family Justice Center, the Zina Linnick Project, the D-Street Overpass for commerce and reclamation of the Asarco Superfund site to Point Ruston. My proven leadership and close ties with JBLM allow me to enhance our City’s ability to develop successful partnerships and regional economies. My vision for Tacoma is to be more strategic, more visionary as we grow, protect our quality of life and realize our potential.

What lessons do you think "Tacoma Government" has learned from the recent budget struggles and how are those lessons going to benefit the city in the future?

During my 20 years in the Navy, I’ve had the opportunity to manage large budgets and personnel. It has always been my belief that transparency drives better decisions. In the last two years, Tacoma has engaged in the most transparent discussion of our budget in the history of Tacoma. I believe this process has allowed both the Council and citizens to have a better understanding of the budgetary challenges we face. As we embark upon the next biennium budget, the lessons over the last 24 months have given us a foundation to engage our citizens in prioritizing our budget. My first strategy for addressing our budget is to grow our economy. Thus far, in 2013, we have seen an increase in our economy; I want to continue to implement policies that allow us to move beyond past stagnancy (2 percent growth over the decade) and continue the recent trend of economic progress.

What else should voters know about you?

As Commander in the Navy, I have lived and worked all over the world and I chose Tacoma as the place to raise my family. I believe Tacoma is a place of incredible opportunity. We are blessed with a beautiful natural location and active civic community. We must be more strategic in leveraging our incredible advantages: that requires ambitious goals. I have already called upon my decades of policy experience, including serving as State Deputy Director for Senator Cantwell, to forge ahead on world-class education, transportation infrastructure, public safety and greater growth for Tacoma. I’m eager to continue this work.

How can voters learn more about you and your political platform?

I am honored to serve Tacoma, my life has been about service and I encourage voters to check out my campaign web site at http://www.votethoms.org Addit.ionally, I love receiving comments and questions from constituents. A culture of open policy discussion is part of what makes Tacoma great. Feel free to drop me a line at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). I do my best to respond in 12-24 hours, to anything from constituent concerns to big questions about my long-term policy for Tacoma.

Patricia Lecy-Davis

What neighborhood issues do you see as your top concerns for your district and what plans do you have to champion them?

The City Council needs to do much more to support and drive economic development. First, we need to map Tacoma’s assets, identify the gaps and overlaps, leverage our learning institutions urban studies and entrepreneurial programs to help us develop complimentary industries and build a strong local economy. Furthermore, we have many unique neighborhoods and by connecting them to our business districts and to our downtown core, we can foster economic growth through support of our 7000+ local independently owned businesses. We should support Public Safety by committing new revenue from growth to fully fund police and fire services because we cannot continue to rely on federal grants to fill stopgap budget shortfalls. Healthy vibrant neighborhoods help mitigate the safety issues organically. Also, if we are keeping more of our money here by supporting local businesses we have more in the budget to support Fire and Police.

Bridging Education to Employment by partnering with businesses and educational organizations will strengthen internships, apprenticeships, and foster entrepreneurship.

What do you see as your role as a district council member in regards to city-wide issues, particularly if they are at odds?

The first job of a Councilmember is to be a good representative of their District, but be able to also steward the priorities of the entire City. The City Council deals with many issues that are City-Wide, like responding to constituents on roads, business permitting, and public safety concerns, but there are definitely issues unique to District 2 as it has the most diverse constituency of all of Tacoma. With high-end neighborhoods, four business districts, downtown core, and industrial port, it’s important that District 2 residents have their voices heard in selecting their next Councilmember.

What experience and perspectives do you bring to the council and how do they match (or clash) with other members of the council?

I have experience as a business owner, and know first hand what it takes to start, maintain and grow a business in Tacoma. I have also been a leader in the business community as co-founder of Go Local Tacoma and past president of the Downtown Merchant’s Group. I have been working strategically and collaboratively with and for community organizations on city issues for years and have the experience to deliver results to our residents. Lastly, having a Councilmember that experiences writing payroll checks is of great value.

What lessons do you think "Tacoma Government" has learned from the recent budget struggles and how are those lessons going to benefit the city in the future?

Tacoma has gone through several rounds of painful budget cuts in the past few years. The most recent cuts in 2012 were preceded by an extensive community outreach campaign to solicit input form the public. I believe that this was an important exercise for the City Council, learning that engaging the community is the best way to govern, particularly when asking for tough choices from our residents and employees. Another important lesson is that while it is important to look for creative funding sources wherever we can find them, we cannot continue to rely on Federal Grants to fund based public safety services. We need to build our local businesses fabric and grow revenue that circulates here to support the level of service we expect and deserve.

What else should voters know about you?

I am a strategic thinker with process capabilities. I am committed to building and nurturing a strong collaborative culture in City government and in the community.

I believe that if we can muster up the self esteem and discard our territorialism long enough to craft a “shared vision”, Tacoma can take it’s place as the jewel in the crown we call the South Sound region.

How can voters learn more about you and your political platform?

Visit http://www.tacomaneedspld.com

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