After serving east Pierce County for seven years — first as a state representative and then as a state senator, part of the Republican Majority Caucus —Bruce Dammeier, a resident of Puyallup, is going all in and running for Pierce County Executive.
“I was born in Tacoma and raised in University Place,” said Dammeier, a U.S. Navy veteran. “I’m a Pierce County kid. I’ve climbed Mount Rainier. I’ve boated on Puget Sound. We live in a great place — a tremendous natural beauty. But our (county) government needs a culture change.
“We need good jobs, and more of them in Pierce County,” Dammeier said. “We need greater collaboration between cities and the county and school districts and more focus on citizens and not on bureaucracy.”
As Pierce County Executive, Dammeier said he would work hard at representing those towns and cities outside Tacoma, that for too long have gone unrepresented.
“While I am not anti-Tacoma at all, we need our county government focused on supporting all of our citizens, including those in Puyallup, Graham, Eatonville and across the bridge in Gig Harbor and in the Key Peninsula,” Dammeier noted.
One challenge across the county — especially along the Puyallup River — that Dammeier will strive to ease is the issue of homelessness.
“We need greater coordination between the departments in the county, between Pierce County Community Connections and the Pierce County Sheriff and others who clean up the camps,” Dammeier said. “Right now, we have a situation where the camp gets cleaned up and the homeless go right back there. Community Connections should come up with a coordinated plan (and partner) with the tribe, Puyallup, Sumner and Fife, because everyone has a piece of that river where people are living.
“If just law enforcement is involved, it doesn’t get done,” Dammeier added. “Pierce County needs to have a coordinated response to that. It’s getting to where Puyallup is being negatively affected. I don’t think the county is providing the leadership that they should.”
As a co-owner in Print Northwest, a Puyallup-based company boasting more than 200 employees and generating $20 million dollars in revenue annually, Dammeier plans to tap into his experience in business leadership to encourage departments in county government to work together on solving problems, which include seeking solutions to create more jobs and reducing the 6.5-percent unemployment rate in Pierce County, 2.4 percentage points and 2.1 percentage points higher than King and Snohomish counties, respectively.
“We need to work with our universities to bring back jobs, and help businesses expand,” Dammeier said at his campaign kickoff on May 31. “High unemployment is not acceptable.”
Dammeier’s opponents in the race are Larry Faulk and Dan Roach running on the Republican ticket, and Rick Talbert on the Democratic ticket.
Faulk is a former Washington state senator, retired Boeing Company executive, and an experienced leader of numerous nonprofits and governmental agencies.
Roach, a resident of Bonney Lake, owns Roach Gymnastics with wife Melanie, is currently serving his second term on the Pierce County Council and served five consecutive terms in the Washington State House of Representatives. Talbert has served on the Pierce County Council since 2010 and previously served on the Tacoma City Council.