Seattle For Washington Goes to Tacoma

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Councilmember Bagshaw, Deputy Mayor Lonergan, Mayor Strickland, Council President Clark, and Councilmember Woodards in Tacoma.

Pop quiz: Which Washington city is the City of Destiny?

If you said Tacoma, you are correct.

Tacoma was the destination for four of us last Friday as we dropped in for a quick chat on mutual priorities. The visit was part of the Council’s on-going Seattle For Washington effort to find more points of mutual interest with cities and lawmakers all over the state. And, frankly, it’s fun and educational to go see the world outside Seattle.

Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Tom Rasmussen and I were joined on I-5 by Marco Lowe, our chaperone and the director of Seattle’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. We met in one of the University of Washington-Tacoma’s great buildings with Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Deputy Mayor Joe Lonergan, Councilmembers David Boe and Victoria Woodards, plus Alisa O’Hanlon, Tacoma’s Government Relations Coordinator (the second chaperone).

Do you ever visit a friend’s house and go away thinking, “Wow, they have their act together. Nice house. I really need to tidy up.” Well, Tacoma looks pretty good these days. The UW-T campus makes use of great old warehouses. As Mayor Strickland told us, “It didn’t seem right at the time, but we were lucky to be passed over for Urban Renewal money in the 70’s.” The reward for making it through the period of run-down vacancy is the great urban campus.

We spent two hours discussing the urban development challenges, transportation, governance structures, coordinated taxing efforts, schools, mutual interests in the upcoming state legislative session, Harbor Maintenance Tax frustration and more. 

Two hours not sound like enough time to solve the problems of the state’s first and third largest cities? Correct again. The good news is that Tacoma’s mayor and councilmembers will come north to sit down with us again in November or December as we continue to work together on making the Business & Occupation Tax easier for businesses to file; ensure that urban issues are well represented in the legislative session; and maximize the business of our ports.

I better tidy up.