Tacoma Urbanist

Jan. 4, 2008 at 12:36am

Changing of the Guard at City Hall: Can Strickland and Walker Help Retain Russell?

Swearing in Scheduled on January 8th

On December 18, 2007, Tacoma said goodbye to councilmembers Evans and Stenger with heartwarming stories told of their last years on council. 

Yet, there is no time for nostalgia and reminiscing.  Soon to be councilmembers  Marilyn Strickland and Lauren Walker are scheduled to be sworn in on January 8th at 5:00 p.m. at City Hall.  They will then be able to vote on the agenda for the night.  (links are to the Tacoma Index Interviews).

It appears that the challenges facing them will be heighted from day one.

Strickland often expressed her desire to help facilitate the building of a 40 story office building in downtown Tacoma.  Now she will be given such a chance with the Russell company.  Just to make it interesting, Russell has raised the stakes : double or nothing.  Perhaps the first Tacoman to be elected to city council in 50 years who lives downtown.  The only city council member with significant experience in the private sector.  Strickland is an at large representative.

(Photos courtesy of Todd Matthews)

District 3 representative Walker represents Central and Hilltop.

With a retail vacancy rate of 60 plus percent, Hilltop will need all of the skills Walker can muster for well placed investment in the area if the area is going to have a better future.  (What will it take for Hilltop to revitalize and become what the painted murals on the empty buildings depict?)

Strickland and Walker will be immediately be forced to deal with the "Russell Challenge."  (I think the official name is Project Destiny.).  There is little doubt that all members of the city council will be judged based on Russell's decision of whether to stay in Tacoma regardless if it is warranted or not.

Here's the mayor's take:
“We are currently in a full-court press to find a way to keep Russell as part of the Tacoma experience,” Mayor Bill Baarsma said. “I can’t think of anything more important as far as the continued viability of downtown.”

Housing demand and prices have dropped.  Projects around the city have been cancelled or delayed.  It will take far more finesse and skill to continue the rebuilding of the city than it has been for earlier councils.

The good news is the 2007 council has dispensed with some long contentious issues such as the Foss Waterway height and regulating pets and farm animals.

Godspeed Marilyn and Lauren.  You have your work cut out for you.

comments [4]  |  posted under tacoma, Washington


by andrew.austin on 1/4/2008 @ 10:10am
They surely are walking into a lions den of sorts. The good thing is I think they are both smart kick-ass women that will not just walk along with the status quo. Perhaps they will give the impetus to build an intergrated streetcar network...spurring development..and thus give Russel a very good reason to stay in town. Its all connected!

by Erik on 1/4/2008 @ 11:15am
Perhaps they will give the impetus to build an intergrated streetcar network...spurring development..and thus give Russel a very good reason to stay in town. Its all connected!

Let's hope.

I think there is a general consensus on what needs to be done on many issues for most of the councilmembers. At this point it looks who is is smarter about doing it and knowledgeable concerning the "best practices" for many of the issues the city faces whether it be economic development, crime issue, transportation, or housing.

by Erik on 1/4/2008 @ 11:47am
I just received the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council email concerning their next meeting.

Lauren Walker will have a Q&A session at the New Tacoma Neighborhood meeting on 1/9/2008. If you have not heard her speak before, this may be a good chance to hear her plans for District 3.

Meeting time and place:

Wednesday January 9th, 2008 at 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
747 Market Street, seventh floor

by Erik on 1/4/2008 @ 12:54pm
From Exit 133:


Come hear Derek Young moderate a lively discussion between Lauren Walker and Marilyn Strickland about their vision for the Tacoma City Council. Hosted by City Club of Tacoma.

New Voices Forum: Marilyn Strickland and Lauren Walker

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 Noon

Landmark Convention Center, 47 St. Helens Ave.

Meet the newest members of the Tacoma City Council in an interactive forum and take the opportunity to express what’s important to you while these new leaders are still determining priorities. Derek Young, founder of the wildly popular Tacoma website Exit133.com, will moderate the forum, which will include substantial time for audience Q&A.

Phone: 253.272.9561
Fax: 253.272.5437