Finalists selected to temporarily fill council seat


The roster of 26 people who applied to temporarily serve on the Tacoma City Council while District 2 council member Robert Thoms serves a six-month deployment in Afghanistan is now a list of nine finalists, one for each sitting councilmember.

The finalists will now face interviews next week to outline how they would be best to serve the city’s District 2, which spans Tacoma’s North End, downtown and the Tideflats.

Thoms wants business owner Russ Heaton to serve in his absence. Mayor Victoria Woodards is in favor of Sitecrafting CFO and Tacoma Pierce County Chamber Executive Board Member Allen James “AJ” Gordon. Deputy Mayor Anders Ibsen nominated startup manager and housing and transportation booster Justin Camarata. Councilmember Chris Beale forwarded former Tacoma Fire Chief Ron Stephens, while Councilmember Keith Blocker supports technology executive adjunct faculty member at Pacific Lutheran University Bradd Busick. Councilmember Lilian Hunter is in favor of psychotherapist Janey Mattson and Councilmember Conor McCarthy supports nonprofit fundraiser/campaigner Sarah Rumbaugh.

Councilmember Ryan Mello supports retired business executive and consultant Ann Locsin, while Councilmember Catherine Ushka supports Tacoma Schools Communications Director Dan Voelpel.

The council will now interview the nine finalists at noon on March 6 during a televised broadcast of the City Council’s regular study session. Each of the finalists will have three minutes to introduce themselves to the council at large followed by five minutes of council questions on candidates’ qualifications for the position.

The council will then likely make the appointment decision at that night’s regular council meeting, two days after Thoms leaves for deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan as part of Operation Resolute Support. He is a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He had just won reelection in November.

The last appointment process to fill a council vacancy occurred last year, after then Councilmember Victoria Woodards stepped down to concentrate her efforts on running for mayor and to avoid triggering the city charter rules on term limits. Her council seat was an at-large position, which drew 55 applicants from around the city. The council ultimately selected former Councilmember Lauren Walker Lee to serve out the term because of her familiarity with the council and the city’s issues as well as her pledge not to run as the incumbent when the term ended.

The list of people who had also applied for appointment to the position were: John Cameron, Phil Cowan, Bruce Dougherty, Suzanne Dowell, Kory Edwards, Christopher Gruber, Jenny Jacobs, Angela Jossy, Jeff McInnis, Rob McNair-Huff, Tim Pavolka, Daniel Pike, Rebecca Stith, David Thomsen, Dorian Waller, Megan Warfield and Twylia Westling.

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