The leadership in Lakewood must be doing something right. Of the four City Council seats up for election this November, only one – the sole open seat – is being contested.
Three first-term council members – Mike Brandstetter, Mary Moss and Jason Whalen – are unopposed. That’s a far cry from years past when Lakewood often saw fiercely fought campaigns against incumbents.
The open Position 5 seat was vacated by Doug Richardson when he was elected to the Pierce County Council. Former council member Helen McGovern-Pilant was appointed to fill the position, and she is not seeking election.
The four candidates who are running and will be on the Aug. 6 primary ballot (the top two vote-getters will advance) were among the large field who sought the appointment McGovern won. Three of them are well-equipped to serve on the council now. The fourth, Ria Johnson, has energy and enthusiasm to spare but needs more seasoning through civic involvement, perhaps on one of Lakewood’s 12 advisory boards or commissions.
The other three candidates are Pierce College history teacher and retired Air Force Reserve officer John Simpson; Bryan Thomas, chairman of the city’s Public Safety Advisory Committee; and Don Daniels, a former small business owner and chairman of the Lakewood Planning Advisory Board.
Any of these three would be a good addition to the council. Daniels would bring a much-needed small business perspective, and Thomas is someone who grew up in Lakewood and attended Clover Park schools.
But we give an edge to Simpson, who has served on the city’s Redevelopment Advisory Board. His longtime connections to the military – besides his service, he writes for The Ranger newspaper – would fill a gap left by the departure of Richardson, a retired Army officer. In fact, Simpson filled in on the council when Richardson was called to service in 2003.
Given how many active-duty and retired military live in Lakewood and the prominent role Joint Base Lewis-McChord plays as Lakewood’s next-door neighbor, Simpson’s connections could be important.
Simpson, who often attends council meetings, asks pertinent, informed questions – a good quality for a council member, too.