This summer, five primary election hopefuls are making the case that they’re well suited to stand up for South Tacoma’s interests on the City Council. But only two — Chris Beale and Janis Clark — convinced us they should move on to the November general election for the open Position 5 seat, which is being vacated by two-term incumbent Joe Lonergan.
Beale has done a lot with the bachelor’s degree in urban studies he earned from University of Washington Tacoma; he’s chairman of the Tacoma Planning Commission and senior planner for the City of Puyallup, a position he’s held for nine years. He also has served on the South Tacoma Neighborhood Council.
The 15-year Tacoma resident has a clear sense of our city’s potential and what it will take to absorb a growing population. Both he and Clark voice concern for safe streets, citing that District 5 has the city’s highest incident rate of youths hit by vehicles.
Local hikers may recognize Beale as president of ForeverGreen Trails, a coalition of Pierce County trail advocacy groups looking to expand recreational walkways. Making inroads toward social and economic equity are also frequent refrains in his argument for the Position 5 seat.
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Beale has received support from some of the more left-leaning members of the council and aligns closely with their policies. That includes his enthusiasm for the flawed “all-in” model to continue bailing out the city’s municipally owned Click Cable with public utility dollars.
For voters seeking an alternative to the status quo, Clark presents the most compelling package.
She would come to the council with three decades of military experience; she’s served as an officer both in active-duty Army and National Guard, a background that’s left her sensitive to veterans’ issues such as post-traumatic stress and sexual trauma. She is the founder of a non-profit that focuses on job skills training for female veterans. In a city where support for JBLM is loud and proud, Clark’s perspective would be welcome.
Almost everything on Clark’s resume says she’d be a forceful advocate for the homeless. She has been engaged with the Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness. And she’s served on the South End Neighborhood Council.
But Clark raises legitimate concerns over the city’s three-pronged, $3.4 million solution to provide emergency shelter, saying Tacoma police are already stretched thin, and when it comes to a tent city near the Tideflats, there’s been too little public input.
Neither Beale nor Clark would give the City Council the level of philosophical diversity that Lonergan has provided — a valuable counterweight for any elected body. His eight-year tenure has been characterized as more conservative than many of his colleagues.
But we admire Beale and Clark for their hands-on devotion to South Tacoma and believe either could grow into the job.
The three other contenders in the field are Brian Arnold, a South Tacoma small-business owner; Joanne Babic, a renter on disability assistance who says she would provide that unrepresented point of view on the council, and Justin Van Dyk, an airline employee and former Tacoma Charter Review Committee member eager to serve the neighborhood where he grew up.
None from that trio can match Beale and Clark in their public service records or grasp of Tacoma issues.