Pierce Transit officials will have a chance next week to reconsider their choice of an imprisoned felon to write the official statement opposing their proposed tax increase.
The agency said Monday that its board would pick a new committee July 23 to write the opposition statement for the voter pamphlet. A week earlier, it had named the controversial Robert Hill to the panel, along with former state Senate candidate Ken Paulson, who had said he wouldn’t participate if Hill did.
Hill, who goes by several monikers including “The Traveller,” was sentenced in February to 16 months in prison for intimidating a judge after making threats in connection with Tacoma Municipal Court Commissioner Randy Hansen, who raised Hill’s bail in a case involving allegations that he pepper-sprayed two people.
Since the board appointed Hill and Paulson, at least five people have come forward to offer themselves as alternatives, the agency said. It can pick up to three.
One applicant, Nick Sherwood of Puyallup, said he worked on the successful effort to defeat a similar tax increase on last year’s ballot and hopes the board picks him and two allies to write the statement. He said they have the support of a trio who wrote the statement last year.
“We’ll go in there with an endorsement from the previous committee to write this ballot statement,” he said.
Voters decide Nov. 6 on the 0.3 percentage-point sales tax increase.
The news came after the board met behind closed doors in executive session Monday, which it is allowed to do only in limited circumstances, such as to get legal advice.
Board member Derek Young, who didn’t attend and has opposed appointing Hill, said the executive session was held to discuss the legal ramifications of removing Hill from the committee. Doing so “may expose the entity to litigation, basically. They needed to know what the risk was,” he said.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, also on the board, said last week that the agency was wrestling with the legality of deciding who can and can’t participate in a public process. The board had “erred on the side of freedom of speech,” she said at the time.
The board is due to reconsider its appointment at a 5:30 p.m. meeting in the Rainier Room of the Training Center Building at 3720 96th St. S.W. in Lakewood.
People who want to be appointed can attend and make their pitch, or they can submit their name, address and a brief written statement by 5 p.m. Friday to Treva Percival at email@example.com or Treva Percival, Clerk of the Board, Pierce Transit, PO Box 99070, Lakewood, WA 98496.