Two candidates rise to the top in the primary elections for Tacoma and University Place city councils.
In the four-way race for Tacoma’s Position 1 – now held by departing council member Spiro Manthou – Joe Atkinson is the candidate most likely to help shore up the city’s shaky finances and focus on job creation in the private sector.
Position 1 represents a district that covers Tacoma’s West End and part of the North End; it reaches south to University Place and east to North Proctor Street. Seeking the seat, along with Atkinson, are Karen Smitherman, Anders Ibsen and Carl Alexander.
Alexander, a small business owner, isn’t running hard. Smitherman and Ibsen, in contrast, have mounted well-funded campaigns replete with endorsements from organized labor and the Democratic establishment.
Both are qualified, with a history of community service. Smitherman is a career educator; Ibsen does administrative work at his wife’s law firm.
Their perspectives are already well-represented on the City Council. We prefer Atkinson – a legislative aide – because of his relentless focus on the city’s business climate, which is the ultimate foundation of job growth, family incomes and tax revenues for city services.
He’s a political independent; there’s plenty of daylight between him and the constituencies that have driven city spending up to unsustainable levels. He is the most likely to push back hard against union leaders’ demands for fatter contracts.
The issue of streetcars brings out a telling difference between Atkinson and the other two. Smitherman and Ibsen are enthusiastic about them. Atkinson questions whether the immense investment in a new transit system would make sense, given population densities and the greater urgency of repairing Tacoma’s sadly neglected streets.
In University Place, Chris Nye, Ken Campbell and Carl Mollnow are seeking Position 6, now held by the departing Gerald Gehring.
Mollnow is temperamentally unsuited for the council. Nye and Campbell are both smart and analytical; both are in real estate.
Nye is an uncommonly impressive candidate. He is a former Special Forces commander; he founded a real estate marketing company, and he’s a state and regional leader of Realtors organizations. A board member of the Fircrest Golf Course, he’s also well-versed in golf course management – a useful specialty, given University Place’s joined-at-the-hip relationship with Chambers Bay Golf Course.
He’d be an excellent addition to the city government.