Tacoma City Council selects our first female City Manager

  By Morf Morford
  Tacoma Daily Index

As I emphasized in a previous column, (April 10, 2017, http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/blog/reinvention-accelerating-results-in-the-age-of-disruption/2440472/) we are certainly in a season of upheaval and transition, politically and culturally.

2017, here in Tacoma, will bring us a new city manager and mayor – and possibly a new city council member – or two.

For better or worse, we are in no mood for business as usual, politics as usual or even formulas or programs that have worked for other communities.

We, in the greater Tacoma-Pierce County area have some of the problems, challenges and opportunities of other urban (or even not so urban) areas -homelessness, income disparity and affordable housing and much more.

Our situation and priorities might be different and our solutions will probably be our own.

Cookie-cutter solutions – or candidates – will not work for us.

As we all know, human history goes in cycles, and for whatever reason, years ending in “7” tend to be pivotal and defining.

Consider 1957 with its music (primarily Elvis) and its cars, 1967 and the emergence of the “counterculture” with its own style of music, clothes and lifestyle, 1977 and the introduction of disco and punk rock, and jumping up to 2007 which gave us the Apple iPhone.

I could give many more examples, but the year of “7” usually sets the tone for the decade – if not the generation.

So here we are in 2017, a new president, new priorities emerging and taking cultural dominion and new faces, beliefs and values taking shape in front of us.

In the midst of all this, Tacoma is choosing a new mayor and city manager.

Our mayor, like every mayor, is elected. Our city manager, unlike an elected official, does not have a “term” or term limits– and is literally hired by the city council.

T.C. Broadnax was our city manager for about five years. Most have been with us longer.

I was on the North End Neighborhood Council for most of T.C.’s term and worked with him many times. He was not from the Tacoma area, but had a solid grasp of the players, processes, intricacies and complications seemingly hard-wired into our community.

To put it mildly, he will be a tough act to follow. The three candidates we had remaining seemed to know this – and so did the city council whose mission it was to replace him.

I attended a press introduction to meet our three candidates. Each one had his strengths and possible liabilities. Two of the three seemed to me to be particularly appropriate for Tacoma.  **

As we all know by now, the city council decided to drop all these candidates.

We need someone who knows us. We need someone, who on short notice, can pick up the pieces and get things going in a way, and in a direction that suits us in these challenging times.

In almost typical Tacoma fashion, Elizabeth Pauli, our interim city manager since February, was chosen by the City Council to be our first female city manager at their weekly meeting on May 16.

New Tacoma City Manager Elizabeth Pauli
New Tacoma City Manager
Elizabeth Pauli

Who is Elizabeth Pauli?

Prior to her appointment as Interim City Manager, Pauli served as Tacoma’s City Attorney. She began working for the City of Tacoma in May 1998 where she served as Chief Assistant City Attorney. She was appointed Acting City Attorney in 2004, and was named City Attorney in 2005. Before joining the City of Tacoma, she was a partner at McGavick Graves, a well-established law firm in Tacoma.

She did not apply for the position of city manager, but given her years of experience here in Tacoma and her handling of the responsibilities so far, she should not have much of a learning curve, and we should all be glad to have someone on board who can take it on so quickly.

All we have to do now is find the best candidate to be our next mayor…

(** Editor Danielle’s note: In case, like me, you had heard we had four candidates, 3 gentlemen and 1 lady, please note candidate Ms. Graham of Port Townsend removed herself from consideration prior to yesterday’s decision.)