As we close in on the General Election on November 3rd, it is again time to look at the candidates for UP City Council. When the races began with candidate filing last summer, there were at least a couple of good candidates running for one empty position and against incumbent Councilmembers. The primary eliminated one of these strong candidates and changed the field slightly.
As it now stands, for the positions with incumbent Councilmembers, the incumbents are now the best choice.
Linda Bird, the current Mayor of UP, while she tends to accept staff reports as gospel, has worked very hard for our city and is the best choice for Position 1.
Lorna Smith, former Mayor and incumbent for Position 3 is the one incumbent councilmember that unquestionably deserves re-election. Lorna Smith is the one voice on the Council that has not been afraid to question the information provided by the city staff and vote against fiscally questionable measures such as the Town Center fiasco.
Ken Grassi is the incumbent for Position 4 and has always been a voice for moderation on the Council. He is a true quiet leader of our City and deserves to continue on the Council. His opponent is a great man but has not expended any effort to inform the citizens of his views or positions…an attitude that does not bode well should he be elected.
The choice for the last position became a lot easier when it was divulged at a County Council meeting that one of the candidates for the position was at best a disruptive member of the Pierce Conservation District, and at worst is the subject of allegations of misuse of government funds. Denise McCluskey has always been the best choice for the open Position 5. Denise McCluskey is a talented manager and member or former member of the UP Planning Commission, the UP PARC Commission, Pierce County Conservation Futures Board and has been deeply involved in working with and observing city staff. She knows how to question and hold people accountable. Those are the races as I see them, but the recommendations are not without a call to action.
The people of UP are very upset with what has gone on with the Town Center fiasco. They are upset with destruction of a beautiful, relatively new library, the displacement of UP businesses and building of a new City Hall when the current City Hall in Windmill Village has lots of unused or underused space available.
The Town Center project, originally envisioned to be a mixed-use residential and retail/office complex has yet to have one residential or commercial tenant signup. So far the Town Center has a government (non-taxpaying) usage only. We will get our library replaced with a nice facility, but the only tenants of the mudhole on Bridgeport so far are government (note again: non-taxpaying): Pierce Transit will have a transit center, the City of UP will have an expensive new City Hall and Police Administrative Offices and WSU MAY have college offices.
Why do I include this in an election letter? I am recommending a vote for ALL of the incumbents on the City Council. I recommend voting for Linda Bird, Lorna Smith and Ken Grassi. I make that recommendation knowing that they have presided over the Town Center fiasco as recommended by city staff. Lorna Smith was often the sole dissenting voice in that fiasco, so she can be absolved of responsibility, but the other incumbents that deserve your votes because they are the best, most reasoning and reasonable candidates running need to be told that they need to pay more attention.
They deserve your vote but you can’t leave the issues at the ballot box. You must participate and let them know you are watching. Let them know your anger at seeing nothing but a government facility in an area that should be contributing tax revenue to the City to keep down our taxes. The incumbents will represent your views, but you have the responsibility of letting them know what those views are. Elect them, but then take some time to be sure they are doing the things you think they should be doing.