Editors Note: Below is Mike Lonergan’s responses sent to him from the Tacoma Sun. All of the candidates were sent questionnaires. Candidates Goings and Lonergan responded.
1) Jail releases
The media has reported that the Pierce County Jail currently releases nearly all of the people who have been arrested in Pierce county into downtown Tacoma even if they are arrested in Orting or a remote area of the county. Would you support a plan which would transport some or all of the jail releasees to the places where they were arrested or where they live when their sentence ends?
Answer: Yes, and in fact I have discussed this in my capacity as vice chair of Tacoma’s Public Safety & Human Services Committee. A more basic reform is to eliminate the court backlog that is causing the Pierce County Jail to be filled to capacity, without room for newly arrested persons, who are frequently brought in from outlying communities, photographed and fingerprinted, then released into Tacoma. Again, we are working to end this practice, and as County Executive I will see that it is corrected.
2) Growth Management
Question: Over the last 30 years, Pierce County has been know for suburban sprawl which has caused the loss of farmland, pollution, traffic congestion and disinvestment in Tacoma.
If you are elected, how will you address the effects of sprawl and growth management in Pierce County? How would that plan be different, if at all, from what is in place now?
Answer: I serve as chair of the 4-county Growth Management Policy Board. We have recently completed “VISION 2040″ a detailed 100 page plan to steer growth to urban mixed use centers, which are well connected by roads and transit, and which offer ample live/work opportunities. Implementing the plan won’t be easy, but as County Executive I will see that the growth of Pierce County is more orderly and does not create more congestion and costly demand for new infrastructure.
3) Pierce County Felon “Dumping Ground” Issues
Q: As you know, Tacoma and Pierce County have a disproportionate number of released felons placed by the Department of Corrections as described in the Tacoma City Club report: 30 Years of DOC in Pierce County. Was It Worth It?
If elected, what do you plan to do, if anything to reduce the number of felons placed in Tacoma and Pierce County? Do you agree that Tacoma and Pierce County should have no more than their pro-rata share based on population? How can the concentration of felons be reduced to its pro-rata share?
Answer: I have been in the forefront of Fair Share ever since my days as chair of the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council, i will continue to have a strong voice on this subject as Pierce County Executive, insisting that Bellevue and Everett take on work release and other DOC programs before any more come here. I will continue to work closely with Prosecutor Gerry Home and Senator Mike Carroll as I have in the past, to protect our citizens.
4) Elks Temple
Question: A great many Tacomans would like to see the Elks Temple restored. There have been plans discussed to possibly turn part of the building into a transit station.
What is your position on this issue? What plan would you support?
Answer: As vice chair of the Pierce Transit board, I voted in favor of an investigation of this possibility. The developer most interested has elected not to proceed (as has happened with other proposed uses for the Elks building, which offers unique challenges. Pierce Transit is in the midst of an exciting strategic initiative, which has many ideas on the table in addition to this one. I will support the most effective use of resources to provide quality and customer-friendly mass transit connecting all parts of the county—with downtown Tacoma an important hub of course.
5) Rebuilding Tacoma
Despite the progress made, Tacoma still has a large number of vacant lots, and empty and blighted buildings relative to other west coast cities. What role can you and Pierce County take, if you are re-elected, to support the rebuilding of downtown Tacoma and Tacoma’s mixed use centers.
Answer: Of course it is taking years to correct a decline that was decades in the making, but I believe the progress made with my support during seven years on the City Council speaks for itself. For years, Pierce County was part of the problem, doing nothing with its property from 13th to 15th on Pacific, which is now the outstanding Rainier Pacific building. I will be a County Executive (moreso than any other candidate) who recognizes the critical importance of continuing progress in downtown Tacoma.
6) Arts and Community
Q: What artistic events in Tacoma do you enjoy and which ones have you attended?
Answer: I am a past president of Tacoma Little Theatre, and always enjoy their plays—as well as those at Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Pantages and Rialto (I am a member of Broadway Center for the Performing Arts). I never miss Ethnic Fest, have enjoyed First Night many times, attend Grand Cinema, and also like such neighborhood events as Art on the Ave and Proctor Art Fest, where I am a volunteer.
7) Restoring Tacoma’s Streetcars
Q: Many Tacomans support restoring Tacoma’s streetcar system. Gas prices are now at record levels. Pierce County plays a large role in transportation systems in Tacoma. Do you support restoring the streetcar network in Tacoma? What steps would be needed to be taken to make this happen?
Answer: This is also on my agenda as vice chair of Pierce Transit I have been instrumental in bringing the City Manager together with the Pierce Transit leadership, because I believe this is the only way to make a streetcar network happen. Our board is looking closely at all possibilities for high-capacity transit on key routes in Tacoma and beyond.
VIII) Pollution Issues in Tacoma
Question: The City of Tacoma is currently failing the pollution criteria set by the State of Washington. What role can Pierce County play to reduce pollution in the city limits of Tacoma?
Answer: The truth is that Tacoma and Pierce County have greatly reduced air pollution in the past decade—coming a long way from the old “Aroma of Tacoma.” The reason for our non-compliance in particulates is because the Federal standard was made more restrictive. Following recommendations of the Green Ribbon Task Force we will continue to take all reasonable steps such as converting vehicle fuels, shore power hookups for ships, reducing train idling and traffic congestion
9) Crime Reduction Proposal by City Manager Eric Anderson
Question: City Manager Eric Anderson has set a goal to reduce crime in Tacoma by 50 percent in 14 months. Given the predominant role Pierce County plays on the criminal justice system, what steps will you support the County government in taking so that the City of Tacoma can succeed?
Answer: Again, I have been instrumental in many crime reduction efforts leading toward this goal as vice chair of the Public Safety & Human Services Committee. My work has included eliminating homeless encampments, limiting panhandling, alcohol impact areas, Community
Based Services, former board member of Safe Streets, youth violence reduction, and improved hiring, training and equipping of Police. Pierce County citizens and deputies have asked me to replicate many of these Tacoma efforts County-wide.and I will. Further, my leadership in ending the jail backlog by working with the Superior Court judges and administrators will make police work more effective throughout the County.