What voters say about Puyallup proposal, council races
Public safety measures in the city of Puyallup appear to have failed again, according to early election results Tuesday night. Ren Gilliam is leading the at-large race for City Council. Dean Johnson is leading the race to represent District 2 on the City Council.
Election results for other East Pierce County races can be found on The News Tribune’s live results page.
Proposal No. 1 – Public Safety Facilities
According to the Pierce County Auditor’s Office, 3,204 votes (about 51.6 percent) so far are against Proposition 1 while 3,005 (about 48.4 percent) are in favor. The measure needs 60 percent to pass. This will be the third time voters have rejected a proposal to fund a public safety construction project.
“We are not providing comment today regarding the election results,” city spokesman Eric Johnson told the News Tribune via email Tuesday afternoon, before the early results were announced. It is too early to do so. We will issue a statement to the media later this week once most of the ballot results are counted.
Vice Mayor Ned Whiting, who was part of the “Yes” campaign, told the News Tribune Tuesday night that he had nothing to say about the early results, other than that voters had been educated about the measure.
If approved, the city will build a new public safety building at 600 39th Ave. SE. It will house the police department and prison under one roof, and there will be a new police substation in the city centre.
The average owner of a $500,000 home would pay $15 a month for more than 30 years in property taxes if the measure passes. The project will cost $76 million, of which $20 million will come from the city in the form of municipal bonds and $56 million will come from property owners.
The Yes campaign’s statement in its voter pamphlet said the city needed the new building because the current building had backed up sewers and a leaking roof. The city is outgrowing the old building, and this proposal is 30 percent smaller than the previous two public safety building proposals that failed, according to a campaign statement.
The No campaign’s statement in its voter pamphlet said the building was too expensive, and that the city should focus on building a new police station rather than the prison portion of the project.
Public position for Puyallup City Council
Renn Gilliam leads the overall race for Puyallup City Council with 3,086 votes (about 53.7 percent) while Shelley Willis has 2,632 votes (about 45.8 percent).
Willis told the News Tribune Tuesday night that she felt confident about the campaign she and her team ran. She said she is also grateful for the experience and opportunity to fight to represent the city.
Gilliam did not immediately respond to The News Tribune’s request for comment.
If voters elect Willis, she plans to expand support for small businesses, create “good-paying jobs” and protect the city’s infrastructure and green spaces, according to her statement in her voter pamphlet.
Groups such as the 25th Legislative District Democrats and the Coalition for Gun Responsibility have endorsed Willis. As of Nov. 7, she had raised $35,530 for her campaign, according to the Public Disclosure Commission website.
If elected, Gilliam plans to protect neighborhoods, green spaces, trails and parks. She also plans to support local police, avoiding “the divisive and controversial politics typically associated with Seattle,” according to her statement in her voter pamphlet.
Individuals like Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammer and state Reps. Cindy Jacobsen (R-Puyallup) and Kelly Chambers (R-Puyallup) have endorsed Gilliam. As of November 7, she had raised $21,415 for her campaign, according to the CDU website.
Puyallup City Council District 2, Site 1
Dean Johnson leads the Puyallup City Council race to represent District 2 with 1,251 votes (about 56.8 percent) while Joe Colombo has 938 votes (about 42.6 percent).
Colombo told the News Tribune Tuesday night that he felt “very hopeful” about the ballots still to be counted.
If voters elect Johnson, he will support the city’s police, according to the voter pamphlet. He also wrote that he believes voters, not the Council, should decide on tax increases.
Johnson was first elected to the City Council in 2015. He was re-elected in 2019, and became mayor in January 2022.
Groups like the Puyallup Police Association and Teamsters 117 endorsed Johnson. As of November 7, he had raised $99,545 for his campaign, according to the CDU website.
If elected, Colombo told the News Tribune he plans to create an ethics committee to oversee council decisions. He said he also plans to help small businesses and provide more affordable housing.
This is the second time Colombo has run for a seat on the council. He lost in 2021 to Councilman Dennis King.
Groups such as the 25th Legislative District Democrats and the Pierce County Central Labor Council supported Colombo. As of November 7, he had raised $24,064 for his campaign, according to the CDU website.
This story was originally published November 7, 2023, 8:19 pm.
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