Our Vision for Puyallup
Our mission is to ensure that business interests, political parties, candidates and council members stay accountable and up-front with their identities, conflicts of interests, and motivations. We want to see a city of Puyallup that will:
- Make sure public infrastructure stays ahead of development, including well maintained roads to handle traffic, sidewalks to keep us safe, utilities for healthy sewer service and water delivery, flood catchment to handle future disasters, and community gathering spaces to maintain sports fields, nature parks, youth centers and senior services.
- Build democracy, civility, and unity in the community, rather than bringing divisive proposals to council meetings (like changing our form of government, or usurping community events like the farmer’s market owned by a private non-profit) without first winning a seat on the council with specific campaign platform proposals. Significant council action must be vetted by independent legal review and standing committees like the planning commission.
- Spend tax money to actually solve problems, such as getting the homeless off the streets into housing, rather than creating expensive legal defense bills. City council has spent more money fighting churches and non-profits to defend unconstitutional ordinances than it has working to solve homelessness. There’s only one civil, legal way to get the homeless off the street: appropriate housing.
Our Targets This Year
We hope voters take a deeper look into power brokers promoting and opposing candidates this campaign season, including:
Candidates who want no review of warehouses?
It appears some candidates for city council are in the pockets of warehouse developers trying to avoid an environmental impact statement (EIS). Candidates who seem to be coordinating with the FOP PAC, in addition to being supported by them, include Paul Herrera and Curt Gimmestad, sharing the same campaign treasurer with FOP. Gimmestad, in a blatant conflict of interest, is also on the board of directors of a state builders PAC that gave $5,000 to FOP. Curtis Thiel is the third candidate being promoted by the FOP PAC, and we have seen no leadership from him or the other two FOP candidates: they should be standing up, refusing independent expenditures, and insisting these vested PACs stop trying to buy their influence.
Candidates with track records and campaign platforms standing up to warehouse developers include Robin Farris (District 1), John Palmer (District 2), and Ned Witting (District 3). In the at-large race, Heather Shadko has always taken a strong stand on warehouses, dating back to her time on planning commission and previous term on city council. The at-large incumbent, Dean Johnson, was not endorsed by FOP, and claims he refused warehouse developer’s money. He has received the most direct contributions in city campaign history from the business community, but he names his big contributors accurately, and no independent expenditures have been reported on his behalf.
Political parties wanting a top-down form of government?
The FOP Facebook page was originally Fix Puyallup NOW, promoting the 25th LD Republican Club president’s strong mayor idea. District 2 candidate Paul Herrera is listed as the contact person on the 25th LD Republican Club website, and District 3 candidate Curt Gimmestad stated in a Chamber of Commerce YouTube interview that the current Republican county executive and city council members called him to run.
When the strong mayor idea failed to get even a few hundred initiative signatures of 5,000 required, the Republican Club took an unprecedented move to run a slate of candidates for Puyallup city council. The change to a strong mayor system (actually called mayor-council rather than the current “weak mayor” or council-manager system) would be advantageous to them because they have deep pockets, with money from developers, so could dominate a city-wide mayoral race.
We assume Gimmestad and Herrera, as well as the Republican’s preferred District 1 candidate who lost in the primary, passed the “strong mayor” litmus test to get endorsed. The 25th LD Democrats responded by endorsing independent candidates who have never claimed to be Democrats. Candidates with platforms opposing a changing in our form of government without a vote of the people include both candidates running for the At-Large position, both running for District 1 seats, as well as John Palmer in District 2, and Ned Witting in District 3.
Council members who waste time and money on ill-conceived ordinances?
Although every council member in recent memory has voted for and supported ordinances which lost in court, most “evolve” on their positions after gaining knowledge and experience. New candidate Herrera is a classic example of inexperience with threats to continue so-called “strong stances” with no viable solutions. At-large incumbent Dean Johnson has not followed through on his campaign promise from four years ago to bring sides together on the homeless issue. Instead, he took sides, and for three years defended an illegal high-impact business license costing taxpayers almost $1 million in court. He also voted for another legally questionable move to wrestle control of the Puyallup Farmer’s Market away from the private, non-profit Puyallup Main Street Association.
His challenger, former District 2 council member Heather Shadko, spoke up during citizen comments earlier this year and rallied support behind Main Street, winning the fight to keep the farmer’s market as-is when four Republican-leaning council members backpedaled on their original decision. Shadko has also evolved on the homeless issue, ready with solutions like a shelter so the police can legally relocate campers from public property. In the meantime, District 1 incumbent Robin Farris has become the leader on council regarding positive solutions to homelessness, while District 2 incumbent John Palmer has also started voting to avoid legal battles with service providers in favor of positive solutions.
Finally, there’s a new District 3 candidate, Ned Witting, who holds positions that are forward-thinking. His opponent, Gimmestad, offers a promise to create (and apparently pass the buck to) a “regional task force” without changing anything in Puyallup. Our city has a bad reputation on this issue, and therefore no regional legitimacy, unless we first do something that helps locally. Homelessness may be the most challenging issue facing cities like Puyallup across the country. What the new council does will be the truest test of fiscal responsibility, community building, and reputation for candidates who get elected.
Please consider a donation of any amount, and invite your friends to like the Real Friends of Puyallup Facebook page. Puyallup Voters for Integrity does not accept contributions at this time outside of Puyallup, Sumner & Orting zip codes whose residents will feel the effects of FOP warehouse traffic. No candidate or party contributes to, authorizes or controls this Political Action Committee which is registered at the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, with first contribution/expenditure filing date of Oct. 18, 2019 when website was launched by volunteers. Opinions and subjective characterizations are included in the text, but when facts are presented, we want them to be accurate. If you find any errors, please email us with original-source evidence for correction.