Morgan's Brain

Jan. 20, 2009 at 4:49pm

Let the (Mayor's) Race Begin! Merritt Throws in His Hat

From my "in"box:

Dear Colleagues:

It has been a number of months since we got together for lunch.  Your early support was very gratifying as I considered the run for Mayor.

After many months of thought and discussion with community members, I have decided to run for Mayor!  This is an exciting step and I thank you for your early encouragement.  I certainly hope all of you will continue with your support and help where and when you can in the campaign. 

I have talked with a few of you on some specific issues and we are open to your thoughts and suggestions.  Your involvement will help us succeed in this effort.

The campaign coordinator is Ronnie Bush, a well experience leader for a campaign.  I look forward to all of you meeting her.

Please keep in touch. 

Thanks again.  This will be a fun year!

James R. Merritt FAIA

comments [22]  |  posted under tacoma


by NineInchNachos on 1/20/2009 @ 5:12pm
So who is this guy? David Boe's arch rival?

by ixia on 1/20/2009 @ 5:30pm
Morgan, where's your hat?

by NineInchNachos on 1/20/2009 @ 5:44pm
Marty Campbell you could beat this clown

by Dave_L on 1/20/2009 @ 5:47pm
So who is this guy?
Well-known and long-time Tacoma booster and visionary, professionally and personally. Responsible for a lot of what we enjoy in Tacoma today, and not just as an architect.
Resume on this page:

by NineInchNachos on 1/20/2009 @ 5:58pm
yikes impressive resume. not many could stand up against that.

by NineInchNachos on 1/20/2009 @ 5:58pm
who has an 18 page resume?

by Erik on 1/20/2009 @ 6:27pm
Merritt has done some great things in Tacoma and knows why cities live and why they die:

Tacoma Union Station Restoration

The restoration and adaptive re-use of the Historic Tacoma Union Station was led by Jim Merritt as the principal-in-charge and design architect team member. The conversion of the space to a public use rotunda and federal courts and the addition to house the balance of the 12 federal departments were key components of the design. The project became a catalyst for the development of Downtown Tacoma

We need more knowledgeable architects in Tacoma government. Boe can't be all alone out there while the city mandates one uninhabitable strip mall after another. That is nearly all than has been built over the last 40 years. Nor can the city get there by hiring one consultant after another.

Tacoma needs a mayor and council with some substantive education on city design.

With the term limit removal having failed, the mayor's race will have far fewer regular politicians. Merritt could actually stand a chance.

by Erik on 1/20/2009 @ 6:35pm
Merritt on UWT re-use of a building:

Institute of Technology

University of Washington Tacoma

Merritt Arch's responsibilities included programming, design, document production, bidding, and construction administration for the adaptive re-use of the 3-story historic building on the University of Washington Tacoma campus to house the Institute of Technology. The first "smart board" on the Tacoma campus is housed in the conference room.

by Erik on 1/20/2009 @ 6:39pm
Finally, for more background, Merritt on Sound Transit Train via Volepel:

They came as Tom Smith, chairman of the planning commission, and David Boe, vice chairman, argued that Sound Transit’s chosen route might violate multiple provisions of Tacoma’s planning policies.

Boe also contended the original voter-approved legislation that created Sound Transit indicated future commuter rail would run on existing railroad tracks. In Tacoma’s case, Sound Transit has proposed building a track where none exists.

A technicality? Certainly.

But one that might help lead to a better solution.

“There’s no perfect solution,” architect Jim Merritt told the council committee. “But this budget thing kind of nauseates me, frankly, because if the city’s looking for the 100-year vision, why are we so concerned about a budget that’s all we can do right now?

“We’re letting this rail blast through this area. There aren’t many places in the world that would allow this,” he said.

“Where is your passion? Where is your stewardship for the future? And what kind of legacy do you want to have for the southern end of our” downtown?

by KevinFreitas on 1/21/2009 @ 2:03pm
Way to break this early Morgan. It's nice to hear a candidate like this mention Tacoma's progress slowing the last couple years. I have nothing in particular against Baarsma but some new blood in that office might be really great.

by morgan on 1/22/2009 @ 9:16pm
I can't think of anyone else that would be better for Tacoma right now than Merritt. The city is entering a very challenging time when keeping an eye on the target: keep moving Tacoma forward.
He's pragmatic and a realist and he has a deep understanding - and appreciation of - the city's history.

Baarsma played an important role during his tenure and helped guide Tacoma through a murky mess. Now, we need someone that not only understands how an urban environment (Tacoma) is supposed to act, but can also communicate this effectively (visually to boot!). I also see an advantage in Merritt being a political "outsider" - his heart is in the right place and he has taken the decision to run very seriously.

by Erik on 1/23/2009 @ 12:01am
From PolitickerWa:

Tacoma architect Jim Merritt formally announced his run for Tacoma mayor this morning, though the news was already out.

Merritt is the first to formally announce a run for the seat that will be vacated by Bill Baarsma, who is barred by the city's term limit from running again.

His campaign Web site calls Merritt a "key figure for the Tacoma renaissance" and notes his work on Tacoma's Union Station and Federal Courthouse.

Merritt cites increased transparency and accountability in city government as top priorities. Job creation, roads, the city's library system and improving civic pride are also mentioned.

"I feel that Tacoma needs a fellow citizen and business owner from the private sector with a
clear new workable vision for today and for the future," Merritt said in a release.

by Erik on 1/23/2009 @ 12:02am
Now Merrit has a web site:

Born and raised in the Puget Sound area, Jim early on recognized that the center of the South Sound was the City of Tacoma. The opportunity to establish his first architectural practice occured in 1975. Jim chose Tacoma as the location for its operations. In 2001 Jim formed Merritt Arch PLLC, a Tacoma-based multi-disciplined architectural and design firm that has earned a stellar reputation for leading architecture and planning throughout Tacoma and the Northwest.

Jim is a key figure for the Tacoma renaissance in many areas: The expansion of the Tacoma Union Station, the Federal Court house, the spectacular Dale Chihuly exhibit, and too-many-to-list projects that can be found in every neighborhood and business district throughout the city.

Jim's approach to urban design is an in-depth understanding of the multifaceted needs of the city and and how those needs interact and impact each other. Sustainable historic preservation of our city's best assets must coexist with new, green deveopment that is both needed and desired in an understandable framework that can be built by others on individual sites.

by fredo on 1/23/2009 @ 10:41am
Hey, I've got a motto for Mr. Merritt: "Change we can believe in!" As most of us know, it doesn't mean anything but the phrase is commonly associated with winning campaigns.

by Erik on 1/23/2009 @ 10:50am
Hey, I've got a motto for Mr. Merritt: "Change we can believe in!"

I wonder if Tacoma has ever had a architect as a mayor.

I think we should have a test for candidates for Mayor and ask them their solutions to the following problems:

Dear Mayor candidate, what is your proposed solutions for the following blighted dead zones in Tacoma

Problem 1: massive dead zones in the middle of the city:

Problem 2: City mandated pocked streetscapes: (On Pacific Ave)

Problem 3: Hazardous waste sites with obligatory waste barrels in the middle of the friggin downtown:

These blighted conditions have been in Tacoma for so long they are accepted as "normal"

by fredo on 1/23/2009 @ 11:06am
Erik@ I love your test. May I add one question for the candidates?

Assume the economy is in the toilet. Do you?

a. Cut pay and benefits for city employees by 15%
b. Freeze pay and benefits
c. Push through a big increase in pay and benefits, dig into city reserves to fund defined benefit pension plans, & tell city tax payers there's no money available for basic services.

by Maria on 1/23/2009 @ 1:04pm
I like Jim Merritt's design work a lot. He's one of my favorite local architects.

If his business/administrative acumen is as substantial as his sense of aesthetics and vision, Mr. Merritt makes a very interesting candidate. I look forward to hearing more about his viewpoint on economics and development.

There's a lot of potential in having a mayor whose lifelong mission (and success) has been in creating beautiful, functional spaces that honor history, provide opportunities and enhance communities.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 1/23/2009 @ 2:22pm
I hope David Boe throws his hat in the ring. Merritt seems like a swell guy and all but if I wanted someone watching my back it would be Boe.

by fredo on 1/23/2009 @ 11:21pm
Hey Erik, lets do something useful with those toxic waste barrels you mentioned. Put a piece of chihuly style glass art on top of every barrel then let those high-roller art-type people fly here to Tacoma to have a look. They'll spend umpteen zillion dollars to gaze in amazement at the exhibition.

by boearc on 1/26/2009 @ 7:29am
Just for the record - BOE has no political aspirations nor the patience required to sit through most of what a council member must endure in this day and age. Jim's candidacy will provide for good discussion of where/what/who Tacoma want's to be. Now, if anyone is looking for a drummer to sit-in with their jazz combo - I'll not only watch their backs but lay down the beat as well...

by Erik on 2/25/2009 @ 3:13pm
Jim Merritt is a thinking man and is using Ven Diagrams to illustrate his principles for his candidacy:


Rerefence :

Venn diagrams or set diagrams are diagrams that show all hypothetically possible logical relations between a finite collection of sets (groups of things). Venn diagrams were invented around 1880 by John Venn. They are used in many fields, including set theory, probability, logic, statistics, and computer science.


A Venn diagram is constructed with a collection of simple closed curves drawn in the plane. The principle of these diagrams is that classes or sets be represented by regions in such relation to one another that all the possible logical relations of these classes can be indicated in the same diagram. That is, the diagram initially leaves room for any possible relation of the classes, and the actual or given relation, can then be specified by indicating that some particular region is null or is notnull.

by morgan on 2/25/2009 @ 3:53pm
boearc: I hear you can "attend" council meetings via phone now ;)

Erik: I think the mantra for the near term future - and this is supported by the diagram - is doing more with less. This is reflected in Obama's national strategy as well. To simply sit by and do nothing is not an option for Tacoma. There has been too much ground gained to slip back into the resignation and urban decay of the 1970s.