Primary ballot is sparse but deserves voter attention

The News TribuneJuly 19, 2013 

Many Pierce County voters might look at the puny Aug. 6 primary ballot arriving in the mail and think, “Should I even bother?”

If they live in Tacoma and some other parts of the county, there’s only one race on the ballot: for a seat on the Port of Tacoma commission. University Place and Lakewood voters also have a ballot measure to consider, and it’s a vitally important one: renewal of West Pierce Fire & Rescue’s two-year maintenance and operation levy,

The weather is spectacular, we’ll grant you that. But it’s not a valid reason to ignore the ballot. If anything, the fact that there are so few decisions to make should mean it’s easier to vote. And unless you’re homebound, it’s not hard to locate one of the auditor’s office 30-plus drop boxes or voting centers — so voting won’t even cost the price of a stamp.

Sure, this election is about as exciting as a slug race. Consider voting as a way to check off that “perform civic duty” box on your to-do list. Dive into the voters guide that arrived last week, do a little research and vote.

Members of the editorial board interviewed most of the candidates on the primary ballot. Here are our recommendations. To read editorials providing the rationale behind our choices, go to

 • Port of Tacoma Commission, Position 1: Re-elect 16-year incumbent Connie Bacon to what she says will be her last term. Do not — repeat, do not — vote for Andre (Doctor Dre) Young, a convicted sex offender who was released from the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

 • In Bonney Lake, there’s no good reason to unseat two-term mayor Neil Johnson. Under his leadership Bonney Lake fared about as well during the recession as any city could have hoped to.

 • Lakewood City Council, Position 5: Of the four candidates running for the open seat, we like Pierce College history teacher John Simpson. He’s smart, knowledgeable about the city and asks good questions at council meetings.

 • In Sumner, incumbent City Councilman Ed Hannus has three solid challengers. Our choice for the seat is Earle Stuard, who retired as Bellevue’s assistant finance director. He’d add a lot to the sometimes dysfunctional council.

 • Federal Way: With the election of Linda Kochmar and Roger Freeman to the Legislature, the City Council has two seats to fill; they’re held now by appointees Kelly Maloney and Diana Noble-Gulliford.

We recommend keeping Maloney in Position 2. But for Position 6, we think voters should pick high-energy newcomer Martin Moore, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.

For Federal Way School Board’s District 4 open seat, Carol Gregory is the strongest candidate in a field of three. Her knowledge of school policy — and the community — is formidable.

 • Puyallup School Board, Position 4: This race has three of the most impressive candidates we met during the primary season: Karen Edwards, Kathy Yang and Margie Silver. Voters can’t go wrong with any of them, but we give the edge to Edwards, a former Army officer and now a grant coordinator for UW Medicine.

 • As for that West Pierce levy mentioned earlier, voters in the fire district serving Lakewood and University Place would do well to renew it. The levy supports 35 percent of the department’s operations; failure would likely result in cuts that would severely affect its lifesaving services.

West Pierce has been a good steward of taxpayer funds in its two years of existence following the merger of the Lakewood and University Place fire departments, and employees have made important concessions to help keep costs down. Voters should approve the levy.

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