The first Tacoma City Council meeting of the new year – delayed one week by the Jan. 6 winter storm that dumped several inches of snow on the Puget Sound – saw the public swearing in ceremony of three new council members. (New and returning council members were officially sworn in previously.)
This is a very special meeting indeed, Mayor Bill Baarsma said Tuesday night in welcoming Julie Anderson, Spiro Manthou and Tom Stenger to the nine-member body.
Elected to at-large Position No. 7, Anderson is a self-employed consultant and local leader in public safety and social advocacy. She won the seat previously held by Sharon McGavick, who was prevented from running again by term limits. A general services manager for Bates Technical College, Manthou was elected to the District No. 1 position, defeating incumbent Doug Miller. Voters put Tom Stenger, a local attorney and former member of the council, into the District No. 3 City Council seat. This seat was previously held by Councilwoman Bil Moss, who did not run for re-election.
In addition, retail store owner Bill Evans, who was re-elected to the council, was also sworn in. A resolution nominating and appointing Evans to the office of deputy mayor for a one-year term was passed at Tuesday nights City Council meeting. Moss previously served as deputy mayor.
All new and returning council members were elected to four-year terms that expire on Dec. 31, 2007.
They join Baarsma, Connie Ladenburg, Mike Lonergan, Kevin Phelps and Rick Talbert in what will no doubt be a challenging year for the Tacoma City Council in the wake of the tumultuous events of last year.
Gosh, Im glad that 2003 is over, Baarsma said, a not-so-subtle reference to Police Chief David Brame killing his wife and himself on April 26 in Gig Harbor.
The aftermath of the Brame scandal included the suspension and eventual removal of then-City Manager Ray Corpuz by the City Council, several ongoing investigations of city government and a lawsuit against the city by the family of Crystal Brame.
Budget difficulties the council grappled with in 2003 will continue this year, with a future budget crisis looming.
The lingering effects of the economic downturn and voter-approved limits on local property and vehicle excise taxes means Tacoma could face a shortfall as large as $30 million for the 2005-2006 budget. The challenge will be making cuts without affecting basic taxpayer services.
Other issues the City Council must deal with include the possible retirement of City Manager Jim Walton, who was appointed to the position following the firing of Corpus; renovation of the 20-year-old Tacoma Dome; and making sure the city gets its moneys worth from a new $50 million computer system that has so far been plagued by glitches.
The Tacoma City Council holds meetings every Tuesday, at 5 p.m., in the Council Chambers, located on the first floor of the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St. For more information on the City Council and Tacoma in general, visit the citys Website at www.cityoftacoma.org.