UPDATE: Thursday, October 29th, 6:49 pm:
I confirmed with Pierce County today that Bill Walker has filed at the elections office as a write in candidate for mayor. In order for write in votes to count, candidates must be registered before election day. Dan Albertson has not filed as of this afternoon, but he has until close of business Monday to register.
I’m late getting this posted (been in flat, friendly, beautiful Texas on business). Some have encouraged me not to respond to this issue. I understand the concern about giving credence to marginal campaigns and candidates who didn’t take the time during the normal filing period to run for office. But it’s also important to me that I address things happening in Ruston.
The following email was sent out by Virginia Carpio (former editor of the Ruston Connection newsletter) soliciting votes for the write in campaign of her domestic partner Bill Walker. Walker and Carpio were most recently noted as some of the petitioners suing the Town of Ruston over Point Ruston’s shoreline permit. What follows is my opinion. I welcome your opinion too. Email me at email@example.com so I can post your thoughts. ~ Karen
--- On Fri, 10/16/09, virginia carpio <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: virginia carpio <email@example.com>
Subject: RECOMMENDED WRITE-IN CANDIDATES
Date: Friday, October 16, 2009, 9:21 PM
Absentee ballots were mailed today and, if that’s the method you use to vote, you should receive your ballot tomorrow or by Monday, at the latest. Three of the four open positions only have one candidate running, unopposed.
I’m contacting you to ask you to consider writing in WILLIAM ‘BILL’ WALKER FOR MAYOR, and DAN ALBERTSON FOR COUNCIL POSITION #1 (against Lyle Hardin). Why? I don’t think it’s healthy for us residents to have leaders advancing their agendas unquestioned, because there was no competition during the campaign. Here are some conditions in Ruston many of us, including write-in candidates Bill Walker and Dan Albertson, want addressed and changed for the better.
Why do we pay a small fortune to take our dump materials to the landfill?
Why do we have no choice but to use the one and only company that the Town contracts with when it comes to cable T.V.?
Why don’t we have free public library service? As job seekers, computer users, researchers, and readers, we pay taxes into Ruston’s coffers and we need and deserve these library services as much as any of our neighbors in Tacoma and most of Pierce County.
Why does the Town impose double utility deposits on a house and collect up to $400 per house if it happens to be rented instead of occupied by the owner? Is this fair?
Why hasn’t there been regular monitoring of the safety of our streets near the boundaries of the Point Ruston/Asarco site? Dan Albertson recently presented the findings of an independent laboratory in Seattle to the Mayor and Town, Council. The lab took soil samples on Bennett Street, 51st Street, and on Ruston Way near the tunnel. The amounts of arsenic in those samples were elevated - all exceeded the State Department of Ecology acceptable limit - and Dan is trying to get regulators and our Town government to address this issue.
If these issues and others are important to you, then please vote, and make your voice be heard. Thanks for considering writing in and BILL WALKER, FOR MAYOR and DAN ALBERTSON, FOR COUNCIL POSITION #1.
Now for the rest of the story….
Garbage: Ruston residents pay the same rates at the Tacoma municipal landfill as any other resident in Pierce County. We do not pay taxes to Tacoma, therefore we do not get the same rate as a Tacoma taxpayer. There are landfills operated by the county where we would be charged the same rate as Tacoma residents. If paying the same rate at Tacoma is important, I’d suggest going to one of the county landfill locations.
Cable: At this time, only one cable company is available to Ruston. It’s not some collusion between town officials and the cable company to keep out competition. The City of Tacoma has not made its Click network available to most areas outside their boundaries (including Ruston). Cable companies operate as utilities and are required to contract with local municipalities in many cases. In the recent past at least – these were many of the reasons for the limited choices we have for cable service. I don’t think this is a priority issue that our elected officials should be spending their limited time and energy to address.
Library: There is no such thing as “free” library service. Tacoma has an excellent system, but again Ruston residents don’t pay for that system. Tacoma taxpayers do. It makes sense that residents within their taxing jurisdiction should have access to the system they are paying for.
If we really want to access Tacoma’s libraries, the Town could explore incorporating into the tax boundaries for that service (same goes for Metro Parks). But not all of us want to pay higher taxes. Bear in mind Albertson and Walker are the same folks who oppose any tax increase on our utilities. If Albertson and friends don’t want our utility rates equal Tacoma’s, why would they push for higher taxes for access to libraries? Under the current system, we can pay to use Tacoma’s libraries if we want rather than have everyone taxed for the service.
Utility Deposits: As owners of several rental properties in town, I can understand why this is an issue for Bill Walker and Virginia Carpio. Ruston requires a utility deposit from the property owner for each property, and one from the tenant. It’s the cost of business when using your property for income. You’ll recall Ruston recently had to write off $11, 294.00 in unpaid utility bills. The town is acting as wise stewards of our money by holding both the tenant and property owner responsible for these expenses.
Environmental: There has been a multi-million dollar clean up done on Ruston right-of-ways and yards. With this recent report, there is no mention of what the sample results were from the specific locations listed. It is likely the higher number came from the area outside the Point Ruston fence on the Tacoma side of the tunnel – an area that has not been remediated yet (but will be).
The clean-up program allows soils to remain in place that are above the state’s limit. There are many, many areas all over Washington that exceed this limit. Those soils left behind are addressed with an educational program that encourages folks to wash their hands after working in the dirt, not chew gum while gardening, etc. There was some resistance in the past from town leaders about having an constant blitz to area residents about “bad dirt”. The goal has been finding a reasonable message that let’s folks know what is going on without creating fear or stigmatizing the town again.
EPA has been very involved in oversight of both the residential clean-up and of Point Ruston. The federal government has contractors watching almost constantly. The state also sends people out to watch. To say the issue has not been addressed is simply false. These same samples are being used by Jobs For Justice and others (including Walker and Carpio) in their attempt to control and/or hurt the Point Ruston project. It’s important to see the big picture and understand the consequences of reacting out of fear before all the information is presented and understood.
In my opinion, these are not the most pressing issues we face. Our budget deficit, aging infrastructure, declining tax base, struggling businesses, challenges for our major development projects – these are the issues where we should focus our limited resources first. We have a wonderful community with close connections. We are healing from some contentious divisions – finally talking across political boundaries and learning to trust each other. The leaders we elect next week are critical to continue that healing or return us to the battleground attacks and misunderstandings. Please research the candidates carefully and vote for the leaders that demonstrate the consensus-building skills Ruston needs to keep moving us forward.