Four of Tacoma nine City Council seats are up for election this year; three are contested, and two of these races — in Districts 1 and 3 — need immediate attention from the voters.
The District 1 seat has drawn three candidates; District 3 has drawn seven. The Aug. 4 primary will winnow those fields down to two.
The race in Council District 1 — which encompasses the West Slope and most of the North End — is to some degree a referendum on the incumbent, Anders Ibsen.
Ibsen was elected in 2011 and is now finishing his first term. He’s a real estate appraiser when he’s not doing council work. He’s smart and has done some good work for his district — but he’s antagonized almost everyone else on the council. When a challenger, John Hines, filed for the seat, seven of the council’s nine members immediately endorsed him — a dramatic repudiation of Ibsen.
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Ibsen’s effectiveness is clearly impaired by his difficulty maintaining healthy working relationships with his colleagues. Fortunately, the two other candidates — Hines and Tara Doyle-Enneking — are excellent alternatives. For the purposes of this primary, we endorse them both.
Hines is a football coach and teacher; he’s been active in educational groups and his teachers union. For a newcomer, he demonstrates an impressive knowledge of the district’s issues and needs. He’d be a good choice for traditional Democrats and union voters in District 1.
Doyle-Enneking, a former family therapist who now co-owns an auto dealership, offers an understanding of business realities, a perspective the council has too little of. She’s energetic, engaging and involved in the community. She’s the candidate for those who want Tacoma to do more to nurture the private sector.
District 3 — which includes the Hilltop, Central Tacoma and part of South Tacoma — offers its voters an embarrassment of good candidates. With the exception of Robert Hill, a felon, it’s a strong field.
Aficionados of leftist politics have Whitney Brady, a committed young 15 Now activist who handles insurance claims for State Farm. Tom McCarthy, a Pierce College teacher, has heavy union support. Kris Blondin is a business-savvy restaurateur.
Although we aren’t endorsing him, Keith Blocker deserves special mention: Now 34, he fought his way up from hard poverty in Philadelphia and now works with disadvantaged youth. We hope he’ll stay active in public life if he loses this race.
As in the District 1 race, we’re endorsing two candidates: Justin Leighton and Valentine Smith, who have both served on the Central Neighborhood Council.
Leighton, who does government relations for Pierce Transit, has been active in public life, knows city issues and enjoys strong support from leading Democrats in the area.
Smith is a 12-year Army veteran who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He manages construction projects at the Port of Seattle, and he’d be a forceful advocate of the private sector if elected.
The third City Council contest, a citywide race between Conor McCarthy and Suzanne Skaar, will be decided in November. In the fourth election, for another citywide seat, Councilmember Ryan Mello is running unopposed.