Tacoma City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards announced Wednesday that she is stepping down to run for mayor.
Woodards will leave the council Dec. 28. Her departure is a nod to the city’s term limits law, which prohibits anyone from serving more than 10 years in a row in the mayor or council positions. If she remained on the council, Woodards would have to leave in 2020, a year before the next mayoral term ends.
The same term limits prevent Mayor Marilyn Strickland from running for re-election next year. Woodards is the second person to join the race for mayor. Local architect Jim Merritt announced last month that he will run for Tacoma city government’s top elected position for the second time.
Woodards, 51, is a U.S. Army veteran who grew up in Tacoma and graduated from Lincoln High School. The South End resident was elected an at-large council member in 2009. Prior to her time on the City Council, she was on the board of Metro Parks Tacoma. She is the president of the Tacoma Urban League.
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“Part of my reason for stepping away is just to kind of become a citizen again and listen,” Woodards said, adding that it would allow her to “really get out and listen to people and hear what they’re thinking — not everybody shows up at a council meeting to tell you what their priorities are.”
In a news release announcing her run, Woodards said she’ll focus on “family-wage jobs, public safety, responsible budgets, local businesses, and a lasting solution to our homelessness and mental health crisis.”
Woodards said she won’t have a role in the City Council’s process for replacing her, which she said would probably start after the new year.
City officials said Wednesday that they don’t know yet what the process to replace Woodards will be. The last time the council had to fill a vacancy created by a resignation was in January 2013. Councilman Robert Thoms was appointed from a pool of seven candidates to represent District 2 after former Councilman Jake Fey left when he won election to the Legislature. Thoms was elected to a full term later that year.
Woodards’ term expires at the end of 2017. The person appointed to fill her seat would have to run for election next year in order to keep it.