Op-Ed

Council not taking sides in McCarthy-Lindquist fight

Pierce County Council Chairman Dan Roach
Pierce County Council Chairman Dan Roach Pierce County

An epic personal and political power struggle that rages between Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has recently spilled over to the County Council.

Lindquist is threatened with a recall petition, two whistleblower complaints, multiple lawsuits and rightful criticism for nondisclosure of text messages.

McCarthy, who lacks the legal standing to sue Pierce County residents, did so when a Gig Harbor resident filed a referendum to stop her $230 million legacy building.

Both Lindquist and McCarthy have tried to use the County Council as leverage to strengthen their positions. Now, both are trying to woo individual members of the council into their respective camps to bring added strength to their arguments. The politics behind this approach have not gone unnoticed.

As chair of the County Council, I have not taken sides in the Lindquist/McCarthy battle as coverage by The News Tribune has wrongly suggested.

The fact is, I condemn the actions of both Lindquist and McCarthy. They have both done immeasurable harm to this county by losing trust, trampling citizens’ rights and creating every reason for citizens to be cynical about their government. And their political power struggle that is playing out in public is an embarrassment.

But I am not a judge; that’s not my job. My job is to represent the people and adhere to the laws as they are written. And I have done that.

Under my leadership the council has taken a bipartisan approach, followed current law and defended the power of the County Council against the executive’s attempt to supersede her authority.

Here are the facts:

1▪ The power to direct legal action rests with the council, not the executive.

▪ Without working with the council, McCarthy attempted to override the its power by hiring her own counsel and filing a lawsuit in Thurston County, even though she lacked the legal standing to do so.

▪ On Dec. 15, the County Council passed resolution R2015-149 on a bipartisan vote of 6-1, confirming attorneys Michael Tardif and Jeffrey Freimund as outside legal counsel to represent the county in the matter of Nissen v. Pierce County.

▪ On Dec. 18, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor rejected McCarthy’s attempt to appoint her counsel, confirming the County Council’s actions.

While recent news coverage has tended to focus on the McCarthy/Lindquist feud, my tenure as chair of the County Council has brought many accomplishments to Pierce County in 2015.

▪ Protected Gig Harbor resident Jerry Gibbs, who was merely exercising his right under the Pierce County charter to the referendum process when he was sued by McCarthy.

▪ Defeated the poorly thought-out proposed general services building that voters turned down in November.

▪ Added five new deputies and created a new property crimes unit in the 2016 budget without raising taxes.

▪ Worked with thousands of citizens and the state to produce a shorelines management plan that protects private property rights and has been heralded as a model to follow throughout the state.

▪ When the comprehensive plan was vetoed by the executive, the council and I cooperated to successfully override the veto with bipartisan support.

I believe it is important to be impartial and objective when overseeing the divisions of government. My accomplishments as council chair confirm this, despite the recent coverage of the Lindquist/McCarthy feud that has mischaracterized my record.

Political fights like this one are a destructive force that need to stop. In the end everyone loses, especially the citizens of Pierce County. They deserve better.

Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, is chairman of the Pierce County Council.

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