Talbert, Dammeier will vie for Pierce County executive

Bruce Dammeier, left, and Rick Talbert were leading the race for Pierce County Executive on Tuesday after early returns from the primary election.
Bruce Dammeier, left, and Rick Talbert were leading the race for Pierce County Executive on Tuesday after early returns from the primary election.

Republican state Sen. Bruce Dammeier and Democratic Pierce County Councilman Rick Talbert will compete in November to run Pierce County government as the county executive.

Talbert was leading early primary election returns Tuesday with Dammeier in second place among several Republican candidates.

Under the state’s “top two” voting system, the two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary, regardless of their political party preference, run against each other in November’s general election. Eliminated from the county executive competition were Pierce County Councilman Dan Roach and former state Sen. Larry Faulk, both Republicans.

The winner of the chief executive’s race will replace Pat McCarthy, who is running for state auditor.

Dammeier said his team worked hard to defeat a strong Republican slate.

“Dan worked hard, and Larry worked very hard,” Dammeier said Tuesday night. “Now we’re going to take a couple of days off and then retool for the big race. It’s time to end the 16 years of Democratic domination and build a county for the future.”

Dammeier spent heavily to best Roach, mailing out thousands of fliers and airing television commercials criticizing Roach for violating campaign finance law while he was in the Legislature.

Talbert said he isn’t concerned that Dammeier has raised twice as much money as he has.

“This is a race about the issues, not about campaign spending,” he said. The difference between him and Dammeier, he said, is that he has worked to govern day to day, while Dammeier has worked in the Legislature making rules for local government.

Dammeier’s primary campaign was the best financed among the four. According to documents filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission, Dammeier has raised $331,273 and spent $245,647 so far in the race for the county’s highest office. Dammeier, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and co-owner of Print NW, is a state senator, a former state representative and a former Puyallup School Board member.

Talbert, who previously worked as a county performance auditor and council aide, was second in the fundraising race with $153,356 collected and $84,337 spent.

Roach’s mother, state Sen. Pam Roach, is running for the Pierce County Council District 2 position. The elder Roach is State Senate president pro-tempore, having represented her district in South King County and North Pierce County since 1991.

Tuesday’s returns put Pam Roach in first place, trailed by Carolyn Edmonds, a former Democratic state representative. Both will advance to the general election, after eliminating a third candidate, Democrat and community newspaper editor Pat Jenkins.

Pam Roach, a controversial figure in the Legislature for her plain-spoken manner and allegedly harsh treatment of staff members, reportedly is under federal investigation for her political fundraising activities. The council candidate said she has no knowledge of an FBI probe and blamed her political enemies for stirring up rumors.

Roach said Tuesday night that she will resign her Senate seat if elected to the County Council.

In the District 6 council race, voters chose County Council Chairman Doug Richardson and public relations executive Linda Farmer as general election competitors. Richardson, a former Lakewood mayor, is a Republican. Farmer, a Democrat, is the communications director at the Pierce County Library System. Kurt Erickson, a former Army infantry sergeant, was a distant third Tuesday.

In the District 4 race, write-in candidate William C. “Kit” Burns, an independent, appeared to secure a spot on the general election ballot by receiving more than 1 percent of the vote. In July, Burns declared his intention to run against Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg, who had been unopposed. Burns is a retired Tacoma architect who helped lead an effort to stop Pierce County from constructing a multimillion dollar general services building. Ladenburg is a former Tacoma City Council member and a former state representative.

County Councilman Jim McCune, a Republican, will vie against Democrat Dennis Townsend for the District 3 seat in November. Townsend is a former Bethel School Board chairman.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663