Two veteran politicians who have spent a combined 34 years in elected office and a political newcomer are in a three-way primary election race for the Pierce County Council seat that represents Graham, Eatonville and several other rural areas.
Republican Jim McCune wants to move from the Legislature to county government, Democrat Marilyn Rasmussen is attempting her second political comeback in the past two years, and Republican Corey Drury is a first-time candidate. When voting ends Aug. 7, the two with the most votes will advance to the general election in November. To the winner then will go the District 3 seat that Councilman Roger Bush is giving up because of term limits.
Ballots were mailed to voters last Friday by the county elections department. They can be returned at official drop boxes and by mail.
McCune, a legislator since 2005, was unable to run this year for re-election as a state representastive because the redistricting process cut him out of the Second Legislative District, so he turned his attention to the council.
Rasmussen is an election foe for McCune for the second time. He beat her in 2010 when she challenged him for his seat in the Legislature. She held elected office, including in the Legislature, for 28 years before losing a re-election bid for state Senate four years ago.
Drury works as an engineer for a baking company in Sumner.
To help inform voters about the candidates, The Dispatch sent a questionnaire to Drury, McCune and Rasmussen. Here are their responses:
Dispatch: Please lis your civic or community involvement, and some of your personal information.
Drury: In May, I shaved my head to donate 11 inches of hair to Locks of Love, March of Dimes and Relay for Life. I’m 25 years old and live in Spanaway.
McCune: State representative from 2005 to 2012. Co-sponsored “meth bill” resulting in 80 percent reduction in meth labs; served on Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee, Transportation Committee, and the Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs; ranking member for General Government Appropriations. Small-business owner over 40 years; past corporation board member (10 years); Guardian of Small Business Award (NFIB); Cornerstone Award (AWB); “Friend of Farmers” (Washington Farm Bureau); former youth basketball coach, Big Brother and Awana leader. I’m 61 and live in Graham. Occupation: Copper River Salmon marketer and distributor.
Rasmussen: Eatonville School Board 1981-87, state House of Representatives six years, elected to the state Senate 16 years. I was a 4-H leader, Eatonville FFA mom and served on the Fair Board for the Future Farmers of America. I am currently a member of the Graham Business Association, Ohop Grange, Bethel Education Scholarship Team, Washington Dairy Women and the Farm Forestry Association. I am active in the Spanaway/Parkland Kiwanis, St. Ann’s Altar Society, the Eatonville Chamber, Marymount Manor Housing Board, and an honorary member of the Back County Horsemen and the Delta Kappa Gamma. In the Legislature, I I chaired the Agriculture, Rural Development committee, Veterans and Military Affairs and served on the Education, Early Learning, Transportation and Ways and Means committees. I am 73, live outside Eatonville-(52 years on family farm). I farm cattle, hay and timber.
Dispatch: In your background and experience relevant to serving with the County Council, what sets you apart from your opponent?
Drury: I am not a career politician like my opponents, but a blue collar worker. My very first job was flipping burgers and then to a maintenance mechanic. I work in manufacturing and know the meaning of hard work. We need a hard-working council member in our government to make the necessary changes that are needed to build a better community that will support working-class families. I am someone that will work tirelessly to help resolve the issues that we face in these tough economic times.
McCune: As a state representative, a lot of my experience has been similar to what I will be doing as a councilman, if elected. I have already learned a great deal from current council members about the issues that face Pierce County. More important than mere experience, I have gained insight as to what is needed in government in general. It has always been my firm belief that the priority of those in government is to protect the God-given rights of the people they serve. As the Constitution says, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” These set me apart from my opponents.
Rasmussen: My long term as a farmer, property owner and a representative to the Legislature for 22 years and a former school board member has given me a wealth of knowledge in issues and the concerns and needs of our community. I never missed a day of legislative session. As a representative, 90 percent of the constituent calls were issues involving Pierce County, such as crime, meth labs, transportation, permits, property rights, water, environment, land-use and health and safety of our citizens and special education of our children and adults with disabilities. I have worked on creating the Ashford County Park, Autism Center at U of W-Tacoma, State Historical Museum in Tacoma, Pierce County Skills Center, Pacific Avenue/Mountain Highway Safety Corridor, DNR Backcountry Horse Park in Elbe, and worked to provide budget funding For the Mashel River Park, phase one of the Cross-Base Highway, and phase one of the Nisqually River State Park.
Dispatch: What do you hope to accomplish if you’re elected?
Drury: I hope to resolve the many issues that are facing Pierce County. I would streamline the county government and enforce responsible budgetary spending. As a council member, my focus would be to reasonably shrink the government and try to figure out new ideas to lower taxes. I will work to disband the Flood Control Zone District because there is no breakdown on what projects would be funded and how much each project would receive. I will work to increase funding for public safety by cutting funding to non-essential services, and try to fund more youth activities to keep children off the streets.
McCune: I want to take a principles-over-politics approach to the County Council and work to ease the burden on individuals and businesses as they struggle to bounce back during these tough economic times. I will seek to reform land-use laws and shift the focus of power back to favoring individual rights. I will work to see current transportation projects through to completion, such as the expansion of Canyon Road and 176th Street, and also work for more forward-thinking transportation solutions that can support future growth and minimize gridlock. I will also work to make our parks more accessible to local groups, and keep trails open for people to enjoy the beauty Pierce County has to offer.
Rasmussen: My commitment is to hold Pierce County government accountable, transparent, accessible to all citizens equally, fix what is broken and plan for the future. I will work for everyone to make sure the County is focused on our needs and delivers its services effectively. A responsible and efficient budget is dedicated to public safety, eradicating crime, improving roads, protecting tax dollars, providing services, parks, protecting our jobs and local businesses that is what I hope to accomplish. I have a long history of working with agriculture and land use planning. I plan to listen and find solutions to problems without raising taxes, be accessible, honest with the energy and passion to work for the people of our district.
Dispatch: What are one to three issues you feel strongest about, and how will you address them as a council member?
Drury: Public safety is a huge issue that is facing Pierce County. With the population growth spreading out, our officers are having more area to cover, and the response time is getting longer. We need more officers out on patrol so they are able to respond to emergency calls in better time than they do now. I will secure more funding so we are able to put more officers on the street. Another issue that we face is our transportation and road systems. We need to speed up the process of completing the Cross-Base Highway. This is a vital piece of infrastructure that needs to be completed so more trucks have access to the Fredrickson industrial area and will bring companies to the area.
McCune: Public safety: My goal is to maintain public safety services at the same level, or look for ways to improve efficiency without making cuts. Budgeting: I am always mindful of the fact that government budgets contain the people’s money, and that every dollar should be spent as wisely as possible. Transportation: We have a number of local projects in the final stages, and I intend to do what it takes to see them through to completion. In conjunction with the issue of public safety, I will work for improvements to our roads that will help cut down on accidents.
Rasmussen: Public safety: keeping our homes, families and businesses safe from crime and eradicating meth labs. I worked in the Legislature to give our deputies the tools they need to protect our families and property. Infrastructure: Transportation and land-use planning, such as the Cross-Base Highway, keeping up with the huge growth in southern Pierce County, streamlining regulations in planning and permitting, creating jobs and protecting our private property rights. Budget: I will not raise taxes, and plan to budget wisely. Lastly, I plan to work hard with common sense and integrity.