Candidates announce run for office

Local attorney Derek Smith announced he will run for the Tacoma Municipal Court. Smith will run for the seat being vacated by Judge Elizabeth “Betsy” Verhey, who announced she will not be seeking re-election.

“Running for Tacoma Municipal Court judge will bring together three of my life’s passions: my love for Tacoma, my respect for the law and my commitment to serve others,” said Smith.

Smith missed being elected to the court by a narrow margin in 2010, nearly unseating an incumbent judge after running a strong campaign with broad support across the legal profession and the community. 

“It’s a reality that candidates for local judicial office must fund their own campaigns,” said Smith, “and when I nearly won in 2010 we funded the campaign with $35,000. This time we’ve set aside $100,000 to ensure voters can learn about my qualifications and work in the community.”

Smith earned his bachelor’s degree at UC-Davis before graduating Cum Laude from University of Puget Sound/Seattle University School of Law. He spent his early career in the Kent City Attorney’s Office, where he achieved the rank of senior prosecuting attorney in October of 2000. After joining the Seattle City Attorney’s Office in 2002, he worked in both the Criminal Division and as a community precinct liaison with the Seattle Police Department Vice and Narcotics Unit. He is an appointed judge pro tem in the Federal Way, Des Moines, Pacific/Algona, and Kent Municipal Courts. In 2011, he and partner James White founded their own criminal defense firm, The Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC in downtown Tacoma.

Smith and his wife Celesta have two sons, Rowan age 9 and Wyatt age 7. Rowan and Wyatt attend Sherman Elementary School, where Celesta teaches mindfulness to the students. The family attends St. Mark’s Lutheran Church By The Narrows, where Celesta is the Sunday School and Vacation Bible School coordinator. Smith is a certified scuba instructor and an avid reader.

David Olson – Pierce County Council 

Veteran, school board member, and banking officer David Olson has announced he will run for Pierce County Council in District 7. 

Olson brings a balance of public and private sector experience, with 28 years of military service, 23 years of community service, and 13 years of business experience. Retiring from the Navy and settling in Gig Harbor in 2005, Olson has since established himself as a community leader and ally to small business.

Supporting his children’s education led him to regular attendance at local school board meetings, which ultimately inspired him to run for office. He is humbled to have been elected by the voters to serve as the Pierce County Charter Review commissioner and twice elected to the Peninsula School Board. Years later, as the last of his children prepare to leave the nest, he says his family still serves as his inspiration for his involvement.

“Pierce County is an incredible place to live and raise a family,” Olson says, “though I believe we can still do more to increase economic opportunities, prioritize public safety, and ensure transparent and responsible use of our tax dollars.” Traffic, the ST3/RTA tax, rising property taxes, and neighborhood safety are issues he believes are impacting the lives of District 7 residents day-to-day. “Every year, people in Pierce County are paying more, and getting less. And they know it.”

In addition to the School Board, Olson currently serves as president-elect of the City Club of Tacoma, vice president of the Hilltop Business Association, and on the boards of the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation and World Trade Center Tacoma. Olson is also a member of the Key Peninsula Business Association, Tacoma Transportation Club, and the Gig Harbor Rotary. 

As a member of the Republican Party, Olson is proud to have a strong list of early endorsements, including Kim Wyman, Washington’s secretary of state. He has also earned the endorsements of State Senator Jan Angel, former County Councilmember and current State Representative Joyce McDonald, State Representative Dick Muri, Gig Harbor Fire Commissioner Zachary Smith and former Pierce County Councilmember Stan Flemming, who once held the same District 7 seat Olson hopes to win in November. 

Olson will spend the next seven months reaching out to voters to listen and earn their vote. He encourages members of the community to reach out to his campaign to voice their concerns about the district, “especially those who believe it’s time for change,” he said. Voters can read more about Olson on his website, ElectDavidOlson.com, his Facebook page, or find out more by e-mailing David@ElectDavidOlson.com.

Lizanne Padula – Pierce County District Court Judge 3 

Longtime attorney Lizanne Padula has announced her candidacy for Pierce County District Court judge position 3. Padula is running for the vacancy created by the recent retirement announcement of the Honorable District Court Judge Frank Dacca.

“I am running for District Court judge to help ensure that access to justice is a reality for all citizens in Pierce County,” Padula said. 

Padula is a former prosecutor, reserve police officer and, for the last 19 years, an attorney in private practice handling both civil and criminal matters. She was twice selected as a Rising Star, twice selected as a Super Lawyer and has earned a “superb” rating with the AVVO legal resource organization.

“As a judge, I will bring the wealth of my legal experiences to make an immediate and significant contribution to the Pierce County District Court. As a pro-tem judge, I hold offenders accountable so that they understand there are serious consequences for their actions,” she said.

Padula, 52, is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she earned her J.D. and the University of Denver, where she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology. A member of the Washington Bar Association, Padula has been active in the legal community and often called upon to instruct other attorneys in continuing legal education. She and her family reside at Point Ruston in Tacoma.

John Sheeran – Pierce County District Court, Position 6

Former Felony Division Chief and current Assistant Chief Criminal Deputy John Sheeran has announced his intention to run for Pierce County District Court, position 6. The open seat is currently held by retiring Judge Maggie Ross, and Sheeran is the only candidate to declare so far.

Sheeran brings more than 21 years of trial experience prosecuting some of the most serious offenses in our community, including rape, murder, domestic violence, and crimes committed against children. In his various leadership positions, he’s overseen more than 50 attorneys in the criminal division, working to keep our community safe and ensuring the highest ethical standards for the office. In his announcement, Sheeran highlighted his balance of experience including handling appeals cases in front of the Court of Appeals and State Supreme Court.

Said Sheeran: “I believe that the people’s court should serve the entire community. While all offenders must be held accountable, the public’s interest can sometimes be better served through treatment and rehabilitation rather than incarceration. That’s why I helped lead the effort in 2014 to establish a dedicated Mental Health Court in Pierce County, and currently oversees the Prosecutor’s Office’s Alternative Courts Team, ensuring that everyone has equal access to justice.”

Beyond keeping our community safe in his professional career, Sheeran serves as a West Pierce Fire commissioner and is on the board of Safe Streets. He is a former board member of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs and a regular supporter of Lawyers Helping Hungry Children, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, and Palmer Scholars, among other charitable causes.

For more information or to contact Sheeran, call (253) 468-9794, e-mail Info@ElectJohnSheeran.com, or learn more online at www.ElectJohnSheeran.com.

Dwayne Christopher – Tacoma Municipal Court Judge, Position 3 

Tacoma attorney Dwayne Christopher has announced his bid for the Tacoma Municipal Court Judge, position 3. Christopher, 46, is seeking the position currently held by Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth Verhey, who recently announced her decision not to seek reelection this fall. 

Christopher presents a long history of experience as a pro-tem judge, attorney and civic leader in Tacoma. In addition to his work in private practice, Christopher currently serves as a pro-tem judge in Pierce County District Court. 

Christopher began his legal career as a judicial assistant for Pierce County Superior Court Judge Brian Tollefson, (retired), and currently has his own law practice in Tacoma. A graduate of Wilson High School in Tacoma, Christopher earned his law degree from the Seattle University School of Law, formerly the University of Puget Sound School of Law, in 1997, after graduating cum laude from Morehouse College in Atlanta. 

Christopher has a lengthy record of civic and community involvement. He is the president- elect of Palmer Scholars, a high school and college mentor, a recipient of the 2017 United Way Live United Award, and a member of City Club of Tacoma. He is the son of retired educators from Tacoma Public Schools, Cordell and Marva Christopher. He is married to Meesha Christopher, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. 

For additional information, contact Christopher at (253) 830-5787 or christopherforjudge@gmail.com. 

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