Puyallup’s City Council primary election has been called, with incumbent Robin Farris and challenger Curtis Thiel heading to the general election in November.
Farris received 42 percent of the vote and Thiel 28 percent — just nine votes ahead of Matt Cuyle, according to Friday’s count from the Pierce County Auditor’s Office.
Cuyle said he will not call for a recount in the District 1 race, and state law deems the race is not close enough for an automatic recount.
Incumbent Farris said she was pleased to move forward but knows it will be a challenging race in November. Her focus is to address the city’s homelessness crisis.
She said she believes the solution to homelessness in the city should come from service providers, and it’s the council’s job to implement their suggestions.
“I think the best way to get started with a strategic focus is to allow community stakeholders to identify priorities and turn those over to staff to operationalize,” she told The News Tribune.
Thiel said he is logging issues residents bring up as he goes door to door, including needed sidewalk repairs and crosswalks.
Puyallup police have said the city is safer than it has been in recent years, but Thiel said safety is a major concern for voters. He wants to have a second community resource officer dedicated to the homeless population and see a higher police presence.
“It’s a lot different than it was two years ago,” Thiel said. “The police have done a good job cleaning it up, but residents still downtown still want to feel safe.”
Both candidates want to see less in-fighting on the council and more action.
The New Hope Resource Center has sued the city twice recently — once over an ordinance restricting service providers to northwest parcels of the city, which was rejected by the state, and a second time when the council placed operational restrictions on New Hope, like having a security guard and a telephone line for complaints. That ordinance later was repealed. Puyallup is now sending homeless folks to Tacoma, where they have leased 14 beds from the Salvation Army to provide resources to Puyallup’s homeless.
The Puyallup primary race saw a higher voter turnout than most other Pierce County races at nearly 25 percent with 2,027 ballots cast.
Three other seats also are up in November: Mayor John Palmer and Paul Herrera for District 2, Ned Witting and Curt Gimmestad for District 3, and Incumbent Dean Johnson and Heather Shadko for the At-Large position.