Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pierce County Council poised for November shake-up

Bloggers Note: This article appeared in the Peninsula Gateway which circulates in the Gig Harbor area of Pierce County.

Chairman Terry Lee enters race for County Assessor-Treasurer
Paige Richmond
of the Gateway
Published: 03:51PM June 18th, 2008
The outcome of this November’s election could mean a new path for Terry Lee.

Lee, a Gig Harbor resident, has served on the seven-member Pierce County Council since 2003 and as chair of the council since 2006. He represents District 7, which includes the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula areas.

Although Lee’s term on the council isn’t up until 2010, he’s decided to enter the race this year for another position: County Assessor-Treasurer. If elected to the non-partisan position in November, Lee, a Republican, will leave both his council seat and the council chairman’s position open prematurely.

“If you’re in this role as an elected official, and you want to serve again, you look for opportunities,” Lee said about why he’s running for a position now instead of 2010. “If I waited until I term-limited off the council, I wouldn’t have anything to run for.”

Term limits are determining factors in this year’s council election. It’s not just national politics that could see a shake-up come this November; the Pierce County Council is poised for a change in leadership, too. Each member of the council is either up for re-election in 2008 or has entered a race for another county position.

“Part of it is because of term limits,” said Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy, who has entered this year’s competition for County Executive. “It’s not uncommon, in a county with term limits.”

Council members are limited to two terms in Pierce County. Those members who, like Lee, hope to continue serving as elected officials begin looking for new roles before their second term ends. Republican council member Shawn Bunney, for example, entered the race for County Executive this year, although his second term representing Council District 1 isn’t up until 2010.

Council member Barbara Gelman, a Democrat who represents District 5, is in a similar boat as Lee: She is also running for County Assessor-Treasurer, although her second term on the council ends in 2010.

Three of the council members — Democrat Timothy Farrell, who represents District 4, and Republicans Roger Bush and Dick Muri, who represent Districts 3 and 6, respectively — reach the end of their first terms this year and are running for re-election.

Democrat Calvin Goings’ second term ends in 2008, so the District 2 representative is making a run for County Executive.

Early last year, Lee had also announced his candidacy for the executive seat, only to withdraw shortly afterward. He said the decision was based on a desire to spend more time at home.

“I’ve been asked by a lot of people to do that,” Lee said about running for County Executive. “It’s a regional-type position, where I’m gone all the time. I’m getting to be at an age where having a private life is important to me, as well.”

The assessor-treasurer job, Lee said, fits best with his experience in both the private and public sectors. The position, which is being vacated by Ken Madsen this year, involves evaluating property for taxation.

Lee served on both the Pierce County Planning Commission and the Peninsula Advisory Commission addressing land-use issues before running for his council seat. One of his goals as assessor-treasurer, he said, is to provide public outreach about taxation.

“I think there’s a little bit of voodoo magic in property tax evaluation and assessment,” Lee said. “I think there’s a good opportunity to educate people about those things, and I’d like to do that.”

He said another of his goals is to provide tax relief for Pierce County residents who are “being taxed out of their homes.”

If Lee is elected to the Assessor-Treasurer’s seat in November, the Pierce County Republican Party would put forward three prioritized recommendations to replace him on the county council. The appointment would serve from January to November 2009, when the seat would be open for general election.

The appointed replacement, however, would not take Lee’s chairman role. That position would be chosen by the six other council members.

If Lee fails at his bid, he’ll continue as council member until 2010. By then, Lee could have another option for continuing his public service: Some Pierce County residents are attempting to add a measure to the 2009 ballot that would allow council members to run for a third term.

If the measure passes, Lee said he’d run again.

“I enjoy it. I just really enjoy it,” he said. “When I was first elected to the council, I thought, ‘If I could get a second term, that would be enough.’ But now, I’m not ready to retire.”

Roles to change in county

Each member of the seven-person Pierce County Council is running in this year’s election — some for re-election, some for new positions. Here’s a breakdown of the council members’ campaigns:

Two council members are running for County Executive. Calvin Goings, a Democrat from District 1, and Shawn Bunney, a Republican from District 2, are both running for the executive seat, which is being vacated John Ladenburg. Their terms end in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Democrat Pat McCarthy, the current county auditor, and former Republican Mike Lonergan, who has run for the seat twice before, are also in the race.

Roger Bush, a Republican from District 3, is up for re-election. He has served on the council for one term. Democrat Bruce Lachney is running against him.

Timothy M. Farrell, a Democrat from District 4, is up for re-election. He has served on the council for one term. Independent Ken Paulson is Farrell’s opponent.

Two council members are running for County Assessor-Treasurer. Barbara Gelman, a Democrat from District 5, and Terry Lee, a Republican from District 7, both reach the end of their second terms on the county council in 2010. Four other candidates — Dale Washam, Jan Shabro, Bernardo Tuma and Beverly Davidson — are running for the non-partisan position.

Dick Muri, a Republican from District 6, is up for re-election. He has served on the council for one term. Democrat Vincent Stewart is running against him.

Reach Reporter and Columnist Paige Richmond at 253-853-9243 or by e-mail at

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home