Tacoma City Council

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The Tacoma City Council is the major governing body in the city of Tacoma, Washington, USA. The City Council has one mayor and eight council members, who are elected for four year terms. The City Council has the power to write the laws of the city, budget the city's finances, and make other decisions for the city. The City Council holds meetings on the first floor of the Tacoma Municipal Building.[1]

History[edit]

The current system for the Tacoma City Council was established in 1952. Prior to this date, Tacoma's government consisted of elected commissioners, who frequently plagued the city with corruption. Voters chose to replace the old system with a city council (including the mayor) to pass laws and a city manager to enforce them, also known as the Council–manager system.[2] The council–manager system remains Tacoma's governmental structure today.[1]

Under the Open Public Meetings Act of 1971, Washington state law requires the Tacoma City Council to allow members of the public to listen in on its meetings. In 1999, Cheryl Miller sued the Council for voting down her application to serve on the Tacoma City Planning Commission during executive session, during which doors were closed to the public. The Washington Supreme Court agreed with Miller. In Miller vs. City of Tacoma, the court ruled that in executive session, the Council could deliberate and "evaluate" nominees, but a vote choosing between nominees overstepped the boundaries of an evaluation. Even though the vote was not a formal one, it still violated the public's right to transparency. Miller was compensated only for her attorney fees and court costs as the Supreme Court ruled that the council members did not break the law intentionally.[3]

This issue of public transparency has not been fully resolved. Similar situations have occurred where the Tacoma City Council allegedly held informal votes on candidates in secret, such as a 2010 executive session to fill two vacancies on the Council. The city settled a lawsuit challenging the 2010 discussion.[4][5]

Current members[edit]

The current members of the Tacoma City Council as of August 2014 are listed below.[1]

  • Marilyn Strickland, Mayor
  • Anders Ibsen, Position 1
  • Robert Thoms, Position 2
  • Lauren Walker, Position 3
  • Marty Campbell, Position 4
  • Joe Lonergan, Position 5
  • Victoria Woodwards, Position 6 (Deputy Mayor)
  • David Boe, Position 7
  • Ryan Mello, Position 8

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Meet the Tacoma City Council". City of Tacoma. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  2. ^ Miller v. City of Tacoma, 138 Wn.2d 318, 979 P.2d 429 (1999)
  3. ^ Kamb, Lewis (7 January 2010). "Did Tacoma council’s executive session actions violate Open Meetings Act?". The News Tribune. Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Martin, Lewis (4 March 2014). "Council kept public in dark on Tacoma charter review finalists". The News Tribune. Retrieved 8 August 2014.