With no incumbent trying to retain Position 4 on the Tacoma City Council (Marty Campbell has reached his term limit), the race drew three top-notch candidates who all make strong arguments to represent the East Side and South End. But narrow the field we must, so we endorse two finalists, Kevin Grossman and Shalisa Hayes, for the general election.
A transformative Link light-rail extension will run through Hilltop by 2021, and Grossman’s experience in planning, infrastructure and housing development would be an asset to the council.
The worst that can be said about Grossman is that he’s a relative newcomer. He’s lived in the Lincoln District for three years, but this real estate developer and former Shoreline deputy mayor is focused on growth with a keen eye on housing affordability and neighborhood preservation.
Grossman served five years as president of the Hilltop Business Association and was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to serve on the Washington Affordable Housing Advisory Board. He brings familiarity with all moving parts needed to revitalize a business district.
Consider the long-derelict Browne’s Star Grill property that Grossman and partners purchased in the Hilltop neighborhood, along with the Pochert building next door. Both were on Tacoma’s endangered property list and sat empty for more than a decade. Instead of razing or rebuilding, Grossman helped keep the buildings’ historical and cultural relevance intact.
The City Council can never have enough preservation spirit and savvy.
Hayes has worked in the insurance industry for 19 years and has a passion for women’s health care; she’s also served as youth mentor and local consultant for communities of color. But it’s how she turned grief into action and community-building that sets her apart.
In 2011, Hayes’ 17-year-old son, Billy Ray Shirley III, was a victim of gun violence. Two days after his death, Hayes turned her grief into action. Believing a community center on the East Side would save young lives, she shared a vision that became contagious.
She started with a car wash that raised $700, then garnered support from local organizations and foundations. Her persistence resulted in a $30 million project scheduled to open in 2018 on the campus of First Creek Middle School.
Hayes doesn’t have fully formed positions on every major city issue, but acknowledges the gaps, brings a different perspective than other candidates and has the skills to be a real contributor. She’s a candidate with a track record of accomplishment and real potential to add dynamism to the council.
The third candidate, Catherine Ushka, rates as a fully formed public servant in her own right. She’s lived in District 4 for 20 years and has served on the East Side Neighborhood Council and the City’s Human Services Commission. She’s honed leadership skills as current president of the Tacoma School Board and as vice president of the Tacoma Charter Review Commission in 2014.
Like we said, this is one City Council race where voters can’t lose.
About our primary endorsements
With ballots ready to hit mailboxes this weekend, endorsement season begins. This year we offer our preferred finalists in Pierce County’s three largest cities — Tacoma, Lakewood and Puyallup — after doing in-person interviews buttressed by research, knowledge and observation.
Today, we begin several days of endorsements for Tacoma City Council and mayor. Our Puyallup picks published Tuesday. Lakewood has no primaries, so our endorsements in that city will wait.