In one East Pierce County district, the chairwoman of the Pierce County Council is trying to hold her seat against her challenger, the sitting mayor of Edgewood.
In another district, two veteran politicians – one a fisherman and the other a farmer – are opponents once again, but this time it’s not for the state Legislature.
The two spots are among four Pierce County Council races up for grabs Nov. 6. Three of the four positions are open seats, assuring that the council will have fresh faces in 2013. The winning candidates will secure four-year terms and earn $107,602 a year.
Edgewood Mayor Jeff Hogan is attempting to unseat County Council member Joyce McDonald of Puyallup to represent District 2. Both are running as Republicans.
As of Thursday, Hogan had raised $51,439, the most of any of the eight County Council candidates on the ballot. McDonald had raised $28,701.95.
In the August primary, McDonald finished far ahead of Hogan with 68 percent of votes cast to Hogan’s 22 percent. A third Republican, J.R. Wikane, received 9 percent.
Hogan and McDonald have been rivals over creating a flood-control zone district. Hogan opposed it; McDonald is a major proponent.
Hogan said he’s modified his position after talking with people in the flood-prone areas of Puyallup, Sumner and Fife.
“They believe that would be helpful to them, and they would like me to support that,” Hogan said.
District 2 also includes Northeast Tacoma and Milton.
Hogan now says he doesn’t oppose the flood-control district, but opposes the way the County Council – acting as the district’s board of supervisors – is going about it.
“It’s a way to create a tax,” Hogan said. “They’re creating a bureaucracy with that.”
Instead, he said, surface water management fees should pay for flood control.
McDonald, the council chairwoman, said the flood district is badly needed to restore river levies and protect the county from catastrophic flooding. The district tax, which McDonald said should be no more than 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, will generate money to match potential funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Hogan said he’s neutral on the issue of requiring a County Council supermajority – five votes, instead of four – to approve new taxes.
He accused McDonald of supporting the supermajority for political reasons.
In May, McDonald voted to put a charter amendment on next month’s ballot requiring a supermajority to approve new taxes.
Two months later, McDonald was in the minority when she voted against mandating a supermajority to add a flood-control district tax.
“She did a 180 on the thing,” Hogan said. “I think she’s trying to get votes.”
McDonald’s response: “That’s nonsense.”
She said the two positions are not inconsistent. Requiring the supermajority for a flood tax wasn’t a good message to send the advisory committee that will recommend flood-control projects, McDonald said.
McDonald said she supported the two-thirds majority for state tax increases when she worked as a legislator.
Despite their battles over flood control, McDonald and Hogan agree on some issues. Both oppose increasing the sales tax for mental health services. Both say public safety is their top priority because residents need to feel safe in their homes.
McDonald said she wants to protect some of the 14 law enforcement vacancies that County Executive Pat McCarthy proposes cutting in her 2013 budget. McDonald also wants to encourage Sheriff Paul Pastor to fill vacancies “in a timelier manner.”
Hogan said called it a “budget gimmick” to cut vacancies when those dollars are being spent elsewhere in the Sheriff’s Department.
He said he wants to maintain public safety. “You’re going to have to cut back somewhere else,” he said.
They both oppose McCarthy’s plan to increase permitting and other building fees by 3 percent to 15 percent and to raise surface water management fees.
And they both support major road projects: extending state Route 167, Interstate 5 intersection improvements through Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and the proposed cross-base highway linking I-5 and state Route 7.
Two veteran state legislators are facing off to represent a sprawling mix of suburbs and rural country that stretches from Spanaway and Frederickson to Graham, Eatonville and Ashford at Mount Rainier.
Eatonville Democrat Marilyn Rasmussen is challenging state Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham. Rasmussen lost to him two years ago when she ran for the state House in the 2nd Legislative District. Rasmussen had been unseated by another candidate in 2008 after she worked 22 years as a state legislator.
In the August primary for District 3, McCune finished ahead of Rasmussen with nearly 46 percent of the vote to her 42 percent. A third candidate, Republican Corey Drury, received 12 percent. The position will be vacated by term-limited Roger Bush, R-Frederickson.
As of Thursday, McCune had raised $50,136, second only to Hogan among County Council candidates. Rasmussen had raised $30,466.52.
Both candidates say public safety is their top priority. They voiced concern about the county executive’s plan to cut vacant law enforcement positions to help balance next year’s budget.
“I’m not sure that’s a good area to cut,” McCune said. “We don’t have enough protection now out in the rural area.”
Cutting positions would be tough, Rasmussen said, noting that residents in rural areas already complain about response times. She’d want to know if positions to be eliminated are essential to the sheriff’s operations.
“If he hasn’t filled their positions, then perhaps they’re not needed,” Rasmussen said.
She said the County Council needs to ensure the Sheriff’s Department is “innovative enough to bring more of the law enforcement services to the rural area.”
For McCune, property rights is another priority.
He said county officials have intruded on people’s property without permission to investigate land-use issues. He wants to “protect people’s constitutional rights to use their property without overbearing government intrusions.”
McCune also wants to cut regulations that hurt property owners and businesses. He said the county requires too much planning and permitting for homeowners to make improvements, such as adding a gate or garage.
“The economy runs on people buying products,” McCune said. “The regulations are stagnating our economy.”
Rasmussen also favors streamlining permits for homeowners to make renovations. Another of her top goals is making sure the county spends within its budget.
Both candidates say major highway improvements in Pierce County are crucial. They also advocate for extending Canyon Road East to 260th Street East.
They disagree on two tax issues: the flood-control district and mental health services.
McCune said he opposes taxing for the new flood district. He said conservation district and surface water management funds could be used instead to pay for flood control.
Rasmussen supports a flood-control tax but she’s not sure how much is needed.
She also supports adding one tenth of 1 percent to the sales tax to pay for mental health services.
McCune’s not certain about adding that tax. His first priority is to pay for mental health out of existing revenues.
On the supermajority ballot measure, Rasmussen said it’s up to voters to decide. But she said she prefers a simple-majority requirement of four council votes.
McCune supports the supermajority. “In bad times when people are hurting and unemployment is high, raising taxes is not even an option.”
McCune owns a fishing business, which takes him to Alaska. If he wins the election, he said he’ll either close his operation or transfer the permit to his nephew so he could work full time on the County Council.
Rasmussen runs a cattle and timber farm near Eatonville, which she said wouldn’t interfere with her working full time on the council.
Pierce County Council candidates
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration/marketing, University of Arizona.
Occupation: Vice president, Citation Management Group, a commercial real estate development company in Fife. Mayor of Edgewood since 2006.
Civic experience: Chairman, Pierce County Cities and Towns Association; member of the Pierce County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, the Zoo and Trek Authority, and the MultiCare Good Samaritan Regional Oversight Board. Volunteers for the Puyallup Fair Rodeo.
Total raised/spent: $51,439/$34,734.21.
Top donors include: Mary Lou Tebb, $1,800; Thomas Tebb, $1,800; Cari Milgard, $1,800; Lewise Weinstein, $1,800; Sumner Capital Investors, $1,800; and WWR Properties, $1,800.
Education: Studied at Pierce College; Bachelor of Arts degree in organizational management, Northwest University.
Occupation: Pierce County Council member since 2009; council chairwoman since January.
Civic experience: State representative from the 25th District for 10 years. Board member for South Sound 911, Pierce County Economic Development Corporation, Crystal Judson Family Justice Center and Pierce County Regional Council. Member, Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce.
Total raised/spent: $28,701.95/$11,673.23.
Top donors include: GOAL (Gun Owners Action League of Washington), $1,800; Waste Connections, $1,800; Tacoma Police Union, $1,600; Pierce County Affordable Housing Council, $1,400; Dianna Hawkins, $1,000; Michael Hawkins, $1,000; and Gordco International, $1,000.
Education: Diploma from Highline High School, private courses in law and early American history.
Occupation: 2nd District representative since 2005. Owner, Jim’s Wild Seafoods.
Civic experience: Served on legislative committees including the criminal justice and corrections committee and the transportation committee. Ranking member for general government appropriations. Member, Back Country Horsemen, Graham Business Association and Eatonville Chamber of Commerce.
Total raised/spent: $50,136/$14,323.83.
Top donors include: Republican 2nd District Legislative Committee, $27,100; Gun Owners Action League of Washington, $1,800; Builders United in Legislative Development, $900; Connie McKinley, $900; J. Brent McKinley, $900; and Nisqually Indian Tribe, $900.
Education: Attended University of Washington.
Occupation: Cattle and timber farmer. Worked 22 years as a legislator until unseated in 2008.
Civic experience: Member, Eatonville Chamber of Commerce, Bethel Education Scholarship Team, Marymount Manor Housing Board and Ohop Grange. Honorary member, Washington State Fairs Association.
Total raised/spent: $30,466.52/$25,071.75.
Top donors include: Pierce County Professional Firefighters IAFF, Local 726, $900; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 483, $250; Pierce County Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, $200; Pierce County-Washington Building & Construction, $200; and Randy Dorn, $100.Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647 steve.maynard@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/politics @TNTstevemaynard