The football season is finally upon us.
Which, in turn, means the fantasy football season is finally upon us.
For me, this has a few implications. Mainly, it means my wife has been giving me looks of bewilderment and poorly hidden disgust when I sneak fantasy football magazines into the shopping cart at Fred Meyer. I’m a flawed individual.
It also means I’ve spent far too much of my time lately poring over said magazines — not to mention websites — trying to extract nuggets of information that will ultimately help me in my quest for fantasy supremacy. We all know which players are worthy of a first-round fantasy draft choice, after all, but unearthing the hidden gems is where true fantasy greatness is made.
All of this got me thinking.
If someone was sad and desperate enough to create a fantasy political league for Tacoma — and, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting such lunacy — who would the sleeper picks be? Again, most of us know who the big-name political players are, but who are the folks making significant contributions with little-to-no fanfare?
We’ll call it The League 253.
I talked to some experts (read: people willing to play along with this ridiculous exercise), and here are five names I came up with:
Metro Parks Commissioner Erik Hanberg: He’s what you might call a mid-round draft steal. As an elected official, Hanberg’s got more name recognition than some of the folks on this list, but often his contributions still manage to fly under the radar. And if Tacoma does end up with a park honoring sci-fi icon Frank Herbert at some point, he will have had a lot to do with it.
“He’s thoughtful — sagacious, even — and often the go-to ‘sanity check’ for policymakers in Pierce County,” explains Ben Anderstone, a political consultant with Progressive Strategies Northwest. “He’s also someone you always want at the table while getting something done in politics or civic life. He’s low-key, reliable, smart and a lot more than parks — although he’s also a huge parks nerd.”
Activist Maximilian Hyland: Talk of raising the minimum wage in Tacoma has been unavoidable this year, and that’s thanks in large part — if not entirely — to the work of the citizen activist group 15 Now Tacoma.
Proof of Hyland’s skill in articulating 15 Now Tacoma’s controversial platform was on display this week during a City Club event at which he faced off with the likes of City Councilman David Boe and Adriatic Grill co-owner Monique Trudnowski. Hyland more than held his own.
“I personally like Max a lot. I think he’s an intelligent young guy, and I really respect him,” fellow 15 Now Tacoma member Alan Stancliff tells me. “There are about seven or eight really important people (in 15 Now Tacoma), and Max is definitely one of them. ... He keeps us all in line, and that can be hard to do, especially in a group like ours.”
Lincoln District stalwart Leslie Young: Chances are, if there’s something good happening in the Lincoln District, Leslie Young has a hand in it. She’s a tireless volunteer, and the evidence of her involvement for the neighborhood she loves can be seen all over recent improvements and plans for the future.
“(Leslie is) a great defender and advocate for all things Lincoln District,” explains City Councilman Marty Campbell, who rarely passes on an opportunity to acknowledge Young’s years of hard work. “(She’s) active in revitalizing the district and brings common sense urban planning ideas to all of Tacoma.”
NAACP Tacoma President the Rev. Gregory Christopher: As president of Tacoma’s chapter of the NAACP, Rev. Christopher doesn’t exactly fly under the radar. He’s been making positive work in this community for a long time.
Still, he operates outside the halls of established power — largely from the Shiloh Baptist Church on the Hilltop, — and the impact he’s had is substantial. When the mayor and City Council were putting together their Minimum Wage Task Force, for instance, Christopher was an obvious choice.
“He’s dependable, you can count on him,” the Rev. Toney Montgomery, president of the Tacoma Ministerial Alliance, says of Christopher. “When I’m going into battle, or doing anything, I feel the greatest degree of comfort and confidence when Pastor Christopher is at the table.”
West End Neighborhood Council’s Ginny Eberhardt: The idea of empowering neighborhoods in Tacoma through neighborhood councils goes back decades, and almost since the beginning, the West End’s Ginny Eberhardt has personified the original vision.
Most recently, Eberhardt has been one of the driving forces behind the push to create an Alcohol Impact Area in her slice of Tacoma.
“Overall, Ginny is a very forceful, tireless advocate that’s a pleasure to work with,” City Councilman Anders Ibsen tells me. “She has a great mix of compassion and grit, because that’s what it takes. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and do very unrewarding, unrecognized work in the background. That’s the kind of patience and strength it takes, and she has it.”