A former fire commissioner has launched an 11th-hour campaign for Sumner City Council, challenging incumbent Steve Allsop who had been running unopposed for a fourth term in Position 3.
Joe Gerace, who was a fire commissioner in King County for several years, ran for the City Council in 2011 and lost to current Councilman Mike LeMaster. Now Gerace is challenging Allsop as a declared write-in candidate; he won’t appear on the ballot or in the Pierce County voter guide.
Gerace said he filed with the Auditor’s Office last week after the League of Women Voters canceled its candidate forum, a decision spurred by a letter from five City Council and mayoral candidates, which included Allsop.
They wrote that bias could interfere with the league’s mission of a non-partisan event, because of what they said were close ties to a hostile group of supporters backing one of the candidates for mayor.
Gerace was upset with the letter and the subsequent cancellation and filed to challenge Allsop in response. He said the letter writers got in the way of the public’s only opportunity to hear from the candidates before the general election. He also was disappointed that his opponent failed to file a statement in the voters guide, stating his stances on issues.
“I just want the citizens to know there’s a choice,” Gerace said.
Allsop said he did file a voter guide statement, but after the Auditor’s Office rejected much of the information — citing restrictions on the content — he opted not to file one at all.
“I’m very available,” he said. “If somebody wants to know something, they can get ahold of me.”
As for his decision to opt out of the forum, Allsop said he anticipated certain residents with a history of “lobbing bombs” at targeted candidates would attend, and he thought it would be unproductive.
“The driving force behind (the forum) was this faction that has been so disrespectful and disruptive,” he said. “I didn’t want to participate in that.”
Both City Council candidates said they support a thoughtful plan for spending about $53 million in revenue that will flood the city after the sale of a city-owned golf course is finalized.
Gerace said he has a mixed background in business and public safety, and hopes to advocate for improved infrastructure and community safety resources. Allsop said working with Sound Transit on Sounder train station improvements is a priority, as well as continuing to support city staff and provide them with a positive work environment.
Auditor Julie Anderson said Brian Mettler is another declared write-in candidate in East Pierce County, challenging Alan Nelson for Fire Commissioner Position 2 in the Ashford Elbe Fire District.