Anders Ibsen re-elected to Tacoma City Council; Keith Blocker to join body, too

Tacoma City Council candidate Keith Blocker, center, celebrates with his wife, Christina, while his mother, April Blocker, left, is jubilant of polling results coming in against Tom McCarthy on Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2015.
Tacoma City Council candidate Keith Blocker, center, celebrates with his wife, Christina, while his mother, April Blocker, left, is jubilant of polling results coming in against Tom McCarthy on Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2015. Staff photographer

Tacoma voters returned Anders Ibsen to the City Council despite the advice of seven of his council candidates who had endorsed his challenger.

Meanwhile in the races for open seats, Hilltop youth mentor Keith Blocker and a Tacoma attorney Conor McCarthy came out ahead in Tuesday’s vote count.

Councilman Ryan Mello ran unopposed for his citywide Position 8 seat and will return for a second term.

Dist. 1: John Hines vs Anders Ibsen

Ibsen will represent District 1, which includes the West End and part of North Tacoma. Voters chose him over challenger Hines by a single-digit margin.

Ibsen faced steep opposition even from fellow council members, who recruited political newcomer Hines to challenge him. Seven members, including the mayor, endorsed Hines, saying Ibsen is often difficult to work with and undermines his own causes.

“The most useless thing in the world is a grudge,” Ibsen said Tuesday night. “I don’t care if you supported me or didn’t support me. I’m still folks’ council member and it’s my job to help make my neighborhood as good a place as I can.”

Supporters lauded Ibsen’s accessibility and his knack for prioritizing constituent concerns.

Throughout the race, Hines touted his ability to form relationships with a group as diverse as the Tacoma council. Hines is a teacher at Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way and an assistant football coach at Foss High School.

Though he shared some of Ibsen’s left-leaning politics, Hines aligned himself with those who oppose Proctor Station and its six-story height. Ibsen said all mixed-use centers should follow the same rules.

Dist. 3: Keith Blocker vs Tom McCarthy

Tacoma voters selected Keith Blocker over Tom McCarthy to represent District 3, which includes the Hilltop, Central Tacoma and the Tacoma Mall areas.

From his election night party at the Allenmore Golf Course, Blocker said people were mingling, playing music and looking at other campaign results.

“It’s a joyous occasion right now,” Blocker said.

He said much of his campaign’s success came down to a thorough ground game.

“We had generations of people doorbelling. I’ve never doorbelled once by myself throughout this whole campaign,” Blocker said.

Both first-time council candidates live on the Hilltop and sought an open seat held by Councilwoman Lauren Walker, who was prevented from running again by term limits.

The two candidates emerged from a field of seven in the August primary. Blocker trailed McCarthy in that race 26 percent of the vote to 21 percent.

Blocker grew up in poverty in Philadelphia. He moved to Tacoma about 10 years ago. In 2009, the Tacoma City Club awarded Blocker with the club’s Dennis Seinfeld Emerging Leader award for his contribution to The Conversation, which hosts occasional events on social justice issues, and to UPS’s Race and Pedagogy Initiative, which challenges students to think critically about issues of race.

Now a University of Puget Sound graduate, Blocker now works with Peace Community Center to mentor disadvantaged students. Several City Council members endorsed his campaign.

McCarthy has a history of protesting the Iraq War, free trade agreements and the federal immigration policy — protests that sometimes lead to run-ins with police. He also has had mixed results with his work with Hilltop groups. He resigned his post with the Hilltop Action Coalition after the board threatened to oust him but went on to help found the Hilltop Street Fair.

Pos. 7: Conor McCarthy vs Suzanne Skaar

Attorney Conor McCarthy won a substantial lead over nonprofit worker Suzanne Skaar for the citywide Position 7 council seat.

“We are really excited,” said McCarthy, who watched election returns with his family at the Harvester restaurant, the site of another campaign’s election night party.

Skaar, who raised less than $1,000 for her campaign, had said she was interested in helping Tacoma’s poor and in breaking ground on universal child care.

McCarthy, who once worked for the city in its attorney’s office, raised north of $57,000 from real estate developers, unions, businesses and Tacoma residents.

The at-large position is held by one-term Councilman David Boe, who decided against seeking re-election.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542



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