Tacoma Urbanist

Jul. 25, 2012 at 12:51am

Jack Connelly Takes a Stand on the Issues in the Tacoma Sun

Below are the questions and responses sent to Jack Connelly, candidate for Washington State Senate District #27.

The questions being asked to Washington State Legislative candidates this year from the Tacoma Sun are very specific and address such issues as the best method rebuilding Tacoma Streetcars, digital billboards, pollution in Tacoma and addressing the Felon Dumping Ground Issue. 

Tacoma Sun Candidate Questionnaire Candidate: John Connelly Position: Washington State Senate District #27

1) Education and Experience

Question: What education and experience do you have to qualify to be a member of the Washington State Legislature? What books have you read that you believe that would give you insights as to how to be an effective legislator?


Education: Lakes High School, 1974; Stanford University, B.A. Human Biology 1978 (also fulfilled requirements for degree in Psychology;) J.D. University of California, Hastings College of Law, 1981; Ongoing courses in continuing legal education, both as student and as a lecturer.

Experience: Work as an attorney and advocate for 31 years. Worked through college and law school, first in the cannery at Nalleys, then as a swim coach in Palo Alto, and Lakewood. During Law School I clerked for a law firm in Palo Alto after my first year, then with Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell in Tacoma after my second year. After Law School I returned to Tacoma and began working with Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell as an attorney. I became a partner in 1986 and board chair (managing partner) in 2000 and 2001. I was a two time member of the Board of trustees of the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association and invited onto the Board of the Washington State Association for Justice. I held several offices in the Washington State Association for Justice, including chair of the legislative committee – a committee I served on for a number of years. In 2005 I was elected President of WSAJ. 

I ran the campaign against I-330. As a lawyer, I received a number of honors including, WSAJ Trial Lawyer of the year in 2000, American Board of Trial Advocates Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2007, Membership in Best Lawyers in America, Selection as one of the top 100 lawyers in Washington State by Washington Law and Politics Magazine and one of Seattle Area’s best lawyers by Seattle Magazine.

During my tenure with the Washington State Association for Justice I worked on legislative issues and served on the legislative committee for a number of years. I also served for a period on the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Associations Legislative Committee.

In my work I have handled civil rights and injury cases on behalf of minorities (e.g. the Puyallup School District case), the elderly, abused children (e.g. the OK Boys Ranch cases); disabled, firefighters (Pang Warehouse fire, 30 Mile Fire), Police Officers (Lakewood Police Shootings), people whose rights have been undermined by the State (cases against the Department of Corrections and DSHS) some employment cases (Barbara Corey, Cases by employees of Dale Washam) and other cases on behalf of families and people whose rights have been violated. The skills from this advocacy and negotiation are directly transferable to the work in the legislature.

Books: I am a fairly voracious reader and all the books I read influence my thinking. I particularly like reading anything about John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. Examples of recent books I have read include:

Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero, Christopher Mathews

Bill Bradley, We Can All Do Better

Team of Rivals (Book on Tape); Doris Kearns Goodwin

George Washington’s Sacred Fire, Peter Lillback, Jerry Newcombe

Home Grown Democrat, Garrison Keillor (Book on Tape)

The Fiery Trial, Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, Eric Foner

The Cost of Choice, Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion, Erika Bachiochi

Lyndon Johnson, Master of the Senate, Robert A. Caro

2) Growth management:

Question: Over the last 30 years, Pierce County has been known for suburban sprawl which has caused the loss of farmland, pollution, traffic congestion and disinvestment in Tacoma. During the last 10 years, Tacoma has grown less than 5000 residents while Spokane grew by 13,000 and Pierce County grew by 95,000. If you are elected, would you work to add more density to the City of Tacoma? How would your plan, if any, be different from what is in place now?

Answer: Yes. We need to continue to build Tacoma’s inner core. Tacoma has some of the most beautiful areas in the State. We need to make sure we are keeping the city beautiful for people visiting it. This includes excellent parks and small things such as filling potholes and mowing right of ways. One of the great difficulties with Tacoma right now is that it is not seen as an attractive area for businesses, including small businesses.

This causes them to move to strip malls outside the city and in suburban areas rather than into Tacoma. It is extremely important that we begin working to make Tacoma a more livable and attractive city. We have done a good job with the museums but need to continue this work. This includes continuing the “promenade” from the Thea Foss waterway all the way to Point Ruston and on to Point Defiance. It includes repairing our infrastructure in areas such as the Hilltop and Martin Luther King Way. It includes encouraging and assisting small businesses in the downtown area, in East Tacoma, on the hilltop and throughout Tacoma. Work in the legislature to assist small businesses must include review of the B&O tax structure and review of the amount of regulation so that we are not strangling small , start-up businesses before they can get up and going. Additionally, we need to improve our voice.

Spokane runs certain events such as Bloomsday and the Hoopfest which draw thousands to the City and its message to those people coming into the city reflects great civic pride. Tacoma needs similar events and needs to make sure that its message after events such as the Fourth of July celebration (Freedom Fair) on the waterfront is similarly positive. We did this with the Tall Ships. We can do more of this. I should finally note that we absolutely must improve our schools so that people want to move into Tacoma and want to start their businesses here. We have many opportunities such as at the Port of Tacoma to bring more business and more residents to Tacoma. Extension of I-167 to the Port would add jobs and allow much new spinoff business. But people are only going to want to move and live here if we are working on building a beautiful city with quality schools and amenities that continue to make Tacoma a great place to live.

3) Pierce County Felon “Dumping Ground” Issues

Question: Despite the recent laws passed in the Legislature, Tacoma and Pierce County have a disproportionate number of released felons placed by the Department of Corrections as described in the Tacoma City Club report: 30 Years of DOC in Pierce County, Was It worth It?http://cityclubtacoma.org/images/uploads/DOC_Report_final1.pdf. Have you read this report? What specific steps would you take, if any, to reduce the number of felons being place in Tacoma and Pierce County? Does the Department of Corrections need more oversight as to where they place and/or subsidize felons to live?


Yes. I have read the report and have worked in this area. At our law firm we have handled cases involving felons who are “dumped” in Tacoma. This increases the crime rate and exposes residents to increased risks. One of the most difficult things for a felon who has been incarcerated is transitioning back into society. The Department of Corrections needs to spend more time overseeing how the individual felon is going to be transitioned, who he/she is going to live with and how they are going to avoid reoffending. Specific steps include creating an ombudsman position for this purpose, partnering with nonprofit and for profit groups who provide resources for released felons, (the Irma Gary House is an example) assisting with creation of new similar groups to work with transitioning of felons so that they have a meaningful chance of returning to society, finding work and leading a productive life; working to place limits on the number of acceptances in this area, and making sure that DOC has positions available in other areas.

For more Q&A with Jack Connelly, see the article in the Tacoma Sun.

comments [32]  |  posted under tacoma


by Erik on 7/25/2012 @ 1:02am
Candidate's web site: 

by fredo on 7/25/2012 @ 5:32am
RE: the Tacoma Sun "interview"

No question #4

No question #8

Two questions about billboards.

A question about what books he's read?

Where's a question about his stand on tax increases?

Where's a question about his stand on organized labor?

Anybody can provide a happy sounding narrative of little substance. The voters need to know what the DIFFERENCES are between Connelly and his opposition.

by cisserosmiley on 7/25/2012 @ 7:48am
In 1998 voters approved medical marijuana yet it was 2009 until the legislature implemented the people's will. If I-502 passes in 2012, will Mr. Connelly work to create legislation in a timely manner?

by Erik on 7/25/2012 @ 1:15pm
@Fredo and Cissero: ask him the questions you asked and post his responses here.

by Erik on 7/25/2012 @ 5:45pm
Interesting Facebook comments on this legislative race:


by low bar on 7/25/2012 @ 6:05pm
thats nice. passing the buck to the DoC. Then DoC is like ok where's the money to better help dumbasses transition back into shopping at Walmart? And the GOP is like THERE IS NO MONEY.


there needs to be college in prison and or just free college to begin with. someone with a good paying job because they got a great education isn't going to break any laws. ROCKET SCIENCE.

Someone with a great paying job because they got a great education is going to be able to pay their taxes without whining.

And someone with a great education is going to know better then to pay attention to stupid ass billboards.

I'm telling you, if someone with down syndrome can matriculate at Stanford and UCSF back when education was actually affordable, we all can. And then we can all just solve our own problems instead of appointing Corky Thatcher to solve them:)

by fredo on 7/25/2012 @ 8:16pm

if the government didn't manipulate wage rates there would be a job for every person who wanted one...even parollees.

by low bar on 7/25/2012 @ 8:31pm
i thought wage rates are based on supply and demand. care to elaborate fredo? i've got nothing better to do...

by fredo on 7/25/2012 @ 10:26pm

The government sets the minimum wage rates and the prevailing wage rates each year for entry level and many low skill jobs. Employers may not offer less than these rates in the course of their business. For highly skilled workers the wages are set by supply and demand to some extent.

by NineInchNachos on 7/26/2012 @ 12:15am
jack connelly unfriended me on fb after posting the jack connelly papercraft.   no fun.

by low bar on 7/26/2012 @ 1:12am
fredo, you're suggesting that the gov needs to butt out of business so employers can pay even less then minimum wage? and then also let eric cantor and the GOP raise taxes on the lower class? www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/201...or do you mean the government as in eric cantor needs to butt out? fredo, could you tell us where you think the sun goes at night?

by cisserosmiley on 7/26/2012 @ 7:09am
Oh Jack !

by fredo on 7/26/2012 @ 7:18am
I'm suggesting that if the government didn't manipulate wage rates that there would be a job for every person who wanted one...even parollees. I believe earlier in the thread you or Mr. Connelly were bemoaning the lack of jobs for parollees. I addressed that problem directly and constructively. 

That comment doesn't have anything to do with eric cantor's position on income tax rates.

by low bar on 7/26/2012 @ 2:24pm
How does the constitution start out fredo? They made the letters big enough for you. Clue: It doesn't say I THE FREDO

by fredo on 7/26/2012 @ 2:49pm

The constitution doesn't provide any guidance for what to do about unemployed people. Why don't you just provide a possible remedy of your own design without introducing a bunch of incoherent and off topic references?

by cisserosmiley on 7/26/2012 @ 2:56pm

jack mailed this to me

by low bar on 7/26/2012 @ 2:59pm
Here's my remedy, raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour. Done. Yes the fat cats fredo and the GOP protect won't get to buy the latest yacht every year, but at least they'll be able to buy the latest yacht every other year:) 

by fredo on 7/26/2012 @ 3:02pm
So your remedy for persistant unemployment is to raise the minimum wage to $16.00 per hour?

I'd be willing to give it a try for period of time, let's say 2 years. If it doesn't lower the unemployment rate then we try my remedy of no minimum wage rate for 2 years and see how that works. Agreed?

by low bar on 7/26/2012 @ 3:08pm
No my remedy for unemployment is to get behind the american jobs act. But yes, if lets say you have a wife that is or becomes unemployed then at least $16 dollars an hour will help feed her and the kids:) You know because people need food and stuff...

by NineInchNachos on 7/26/2012 @ 5:01pm
friends of Jack Connelly are dicks.  i'm happy i'm no longer one

by low bar on 7/26/2012 @ 5:47pm
thats the one thing that sucks about politics. you have to be friendly.

personally i'd like some things to go back to the old system of physically strongest being gets all the power. 

if we weren't such a conspiring species....things would be a lot better. 

i'd walk right over to that conspiring mitch mcconnell and make him jump back in his shell. 

it truly sucks not being a selfish dick. I mean being a progressive liberal or social democrat or basically just not a greedy person is horrible. 

theres all kinds of damage control you have to do in order to keep all the psychopaths in government from destroying civilization. the whole reason there is a party opposing the GOP is because the GOP are crazy. Its like entire lives are devoted to keeping the crazies from ruining everything. its so exhausting. 

like from the dawn of time there have been people who would just keeping drinking from the oasis regardless of water level and there have been people there to try to regulate them before they drink all the water before everyone has had their fill. 

by jenyum on 7/28/2012 @ 12:44pm
If you really want to get down to the important differences between Jeannie Darneille and Jack Connelly, you have to ask about social issues. Ask about women's reproductive rights and marriage equality. 
Project Vote Smart political courage test answers:
Jeannie Darneille:votesmart.org/candidate/political-courag... 

Jack Connelly:votesmart.org/candidate/political-courag... 

It doesn't do voters a service to pretend there are no important differences between these candidates.

by fredo on 7/28/2012 @ 12:57pm
Thanks for those links jenyum.I found this interesting.

Darneille claims she favors SLIGHTLY DECREASING the sales tax, yet just 6 months ago she was able to pass legislation which resulted in SLIGHTLY INCREASING the sales tax. I guess you could say her avowed position on the issues and her real position on the issues are two different things.     

by jenyum on 7/28/2012 @ 1:26pm
Her test is from 2010, Connelly's test is from 1996. Our financial situation has worsened considerably since 2010, and nobody knows the state budget like Jeannie. She's done an excellent job in that arena.
You will see her name on most budget related bills, because she sits on the Ways & Means committee. 
The social issues have not changed since these tests were taken, although it is possible the candidates' opinions on the issues have shifted.

by fredo on 7/28/2012 @ 1:40pm
"she's done an excellent job in that (budget) arena."

Really? I would counter that the last few years has been a budgetary fiasco in Olympia with Democrats playing all sorts of games with the budget. However,  I'm OK with her stand on women's issues so I support her in some respects.

by jenyum on 7/28/2012 @ 2:34pm
If by "playing all sorts of games" you mean trying their best to preserve education and services with dwindling revenue, then I guess I don't have a problem with games.

by fredo on 7/28/2012 @ 3:07pm
the meaning of "dwindling revenue" is finally revealed:

2001-2003 $50B

2003-2005 $53B

2005-2007 $61B

2007-2009 $68B

2009-2011 $71B

2011-2013 $75B 

Wow, I wish my revenue would dwindle like that

by jenyum on 7/28/2012 @ 11:45pm
You can't just look at the total number and declare that there is no revenue crisis, this doesn't take into account population and demographics, inflation, the rising costs of care for our ever-increasing population of elderly, etc.

by fredo on 7/29/2012 @ 5:59am
You can't just look at years that revenue increased significantly and declare that revenue will always increase significantly. The legislature must plan for stagnant or down years as well. Agreeing to labor contracts that fail to take into account the possibility of recessions, stagflation, deflation and general economic malaise is short sighted and unsustainable. Darneille has been heavily involved. There's no escaping this fact.

Of course we'd all like more money "revenue" to spend but we just can't set our budget assuming the best. We set a budget using a conservative outlook and put excess funds (should they result) into reserve accounts. 

Sure there are demographic issues, but a lot of the out of control spending is the result of waste fraud and abuse. susanna frame did two recent news stories about these problems. One was on waste in  the state ferry system, the other was on waste in the state minority contracting department. Jen, it was millions and millions of dollars. And then there's the problem of DSHS handing out replacement food stamps to folks who claim they "lost" their cards. Do you suppose these events are related to your "revenue crisis" or not?

by jenyum on 7/29/2012 @ 10:22am
Food stamps are a federal program, so no, I don't think that is related to the revenue crisis."Waste, fraud and abuse" just can't amount to the billions of dollars the state needs to maintain services at current levels.  I know you'd like to think that there is a simple solution, but unfortunately there just isn't.

Anyway, I've allowed you to distract me from my point. Again. My point is, these are two democrats who are very close together on fiscal issues. They are miles apart on the social issues that are also very important to many democrats, and it has been virtually impossible to discern this from what has been reported in the media.

by NineInchNachos on 7/29/2012 @ 11:14am
Dear Jack, Stay out of ladies WHO-HAWs!  

by fredo on 7/29/2012 @ 1:42pm
  " I've allowed you to distract me from my point." jenyum 


Darneilles' miserable performance in the legislature is a "distraction" from a discussion of Jack Connelly's candidacy for the legislature? Hardly.

She's a proven incompetant and Connelly has merely a high liklihood of being an incompetant.   

Also, for the record, you never backed up your assertion that there is any dwindling revenue problem in Olympia.