Tacoma politics: it’s complicated

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Tacoma and Pierce County are small enough that almost any one of us can get to know, or even become, one of the many political figures on our local landscape.

With school boards, city council and state representatives, the odds are high that any of us could be neighbors, co-workers or schoolmates of current – or future – public figures.

The most recent local election is a vivid example of the inter-related nature – for better of worse – of the local political scene.

One example, running parallel in a sense to the usual off-year election cycle, is the replacement of Democratic state Senator Jeannie Darneille, who announced in September she would be resigning her seat in the 27th Legislative District to take a new assistant secretary position for the Women’s Prison Division in the state Department of Corrections.

Since this is a Democratic party position, local Democrats (in this case precinct committee officers, aka PCOs) selected three candidates whose names would then be forwarded to the Pierce Count Council, who would then select the final candidate who would finish Senator Jeannie Darneille’s term. And then, presumably, run for office and keep it for the Party.

Washington state has 49 legislative districts – you can see a list of all the current senators representing all of our state’s districts here – https://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Senators/Pages/default.aspx – and representatives here – https://leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/Pages/default.aspx#stanford.

The 27th Legislative District includes virtually all of Tacoma, from the East Side to the West End and much of the South End, and a bit more.

Any resident or community active member is likely to run into (or even run against) others with a stake in the future and identity of the community we all share.

My sources tell me that, when it came to replacing Senator Jeannie Darneille, there were six candidates, many of whom knew each other and had worked together.

Some may be familiar while some are new either to the area or to the idea of running for office.

Senator Jeannie Darneille had stated several times that she had a “deep desire” to have her position filled by a person of color.

This preference became an inevitably as the six candidates were all people of color – and, except for LaMont Green – predominantly female.

Here are the names of the six candidates, and I post them here because each one has a compelling story to tell, and if you have not heard of them already, you certainly will soon, for this group, each one in their own way, presents and embodies what Tacoma is becoming.

In alphabetical order; Kristin Ang (current Port Commissioner), Tafona Ervin, Desiree Wilkins Finch, LaMont Green, Priya Saxena, and Yasmin Trudeau.

Anders Ibsen, former Tacoma City Council member and local real estate broker, was nominated but turned down the nomination.

Even a cursory glance at these names and their backgrounds (from being homeless to LGBTQ identification) tells you that this is not your fathers’ panel of career politicians.

As Yasmin Trudeau put it, “I commit to always being beholden to the people’s interests first. I will never place profit over people and I will not make decisions that create loyalties to the industry.”

And as Desiree Wilkins Finch put it, “I’m not a policy analyst. I’m an organizer, a community organizer…I’m a servant leader. I’m a builder of coalitions, I am a connector of people and resources.”

Of these six potential candidates, the district’s Democratic precinct committee officers voted to select Yasmin Trudeau (you can see her linkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yasmin-christopher-trudeau-08a66437), Desiree Wilkins Finch (online profile here: https://www.riselwp.com/about, and LaMont Green (LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lamontdgreen) as the three finalists.

I must admit that, as I look over their websites and professional profiles, I’m dazzled by their energy, commitment and passion regarding the community.

These candidates (all six of them) show a resolve and a level of discontent at the way things are, and a resolute vision of how things could be that shows, if nothing else, a new beginning, a chapter of Tacoma’s history yet to be written.

And one of these three will be the new senator of the 27th Legislative District.

And like many of us, most, if not all of these candidates know each other or have worked together.

This is not that unusual in an area of our size.

Even in Seattle, Bruce Harrell and Lorena González ran against each in the nonpartisan general election for mayor of Seattle. They both come from relatively similar immigrant backgrounds and served together on Seattle’s City Council.

We in the Tacoma area will certainly cross paths with, maybe even be inspired by, some of those we work with or get to know in the public sphere.

Some of these friends and neighbors just might turn out to be a senator, mayor or a city council member, assessor, auditor or school board member.

At base though, we can only hope that they remember, in office or after they leave it, that they were, are and will be, our friends and neighbors.

Yes, technically our elected officials “represent” us, but the reality is that they are us.


If you are interested in the details of those running for office, or if you would like to consider running for any office in the future, I’d encourage you to begin here – https://ballotpedia.org/Ballotpedia:About.