August primary election issues and candidates


Rick Sorrels

The August primary ballot will have Key Peninsula voters vote on a fire levy, a county advisory vote for construction of a $230-million administration building, and the elimination of all but two candidates that will face off in the November election for positions as a Port of Tacoma commissioner, two school board members, and three charter review commission members. 

Port of Tacoma Commissioner   

KP residents pay taxes to support the Port of Tacoma which entitles residents to vote for the elected officials who spend public funds. In the absence of any publicized wrongdoing, statistics indicate that the incumbent, Clare Petrich (1996-2015), should prevail over challengers Dick Walters and Patrick Gallagher. 

Peninsula School District Director  

PSD 401 has five directors, two of whom represent residents of the KP, the other three represent residents of the Gig Harbor Peninsula. A peculiar twist is that voters on both peninsulas vote for all five directors. District 1 (KP) and District 4 (GHP) each have three candidates who must be narrowed to two. 

For District 1, incumbent Matt Wilkinson has eight years experience (2007-present) and currently sits as the school board president. He is challenged by Marcia Harris who was a deputy superintendent at PSD (1995-2006) but has not held any elected public office, and also challenged by Audria Garcia who has not held any elected public office.  

Wilkinson has a bachelor’s in computer science and a master’s degree in information security and assurance and works under federal contract on computer security. Harris has an MBA along with some doctoral study. Garcia has a bachelor’s degree in political science and accounting. 

For District 4, the incumbent is not running again. Leslie Harbaugh, Garth Jackson and Zachary Smith all seek the position. None have held any elected public office, but all have been involved with schools, and all have children who attend or have attended peninsula schools.   

Harbaugh attended college and has been active in PTA and last year’s failed levy and bond attempts. Jackson has a master’s degree in education and 12 years teaching experience. Smith has a masters degree in health management and policy, experience with student government, active in PTA, and owns a small business. Each has a different knowledge/experience set to bring to the board.   

Charter Review Commission.  

The Pierce County Charter is the county’s constitution, for which a 21-member committee is elected every 10 years to meet and propose amendments for the charter. Three commissioners are elected from each of the seven county districts. District 7 consists of the KP, Gig Harbor Peninsula, and an area across the Narrows Bridge. Eight candidates are competing for the seat on Position 1 for District 7. Eight other candidates are competing for Position 2. Five are competing for Position 3. The KP and GHP have unique characteristics which need to be represented. 

For Position 1, Randy Boss, Brian O’Neill, and Richard Samuelson live on the Gig Harbor Peninsula. The other five candidates live in Tacoma.  

Boss is the only one with elected or appointed government experience, having served on the park board for six years and was appointed by the Governor to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Citizen Advisory Committee. Boss is a real estate broker and commercial land developer and he attended UW.  

O’Neill was a police officer for 15 years, contributes stories published by the News Tribune, and owns a small business and attended UW.  

Samuelson has a bachelor’s in English literature from Yale and an MBA from Wharton, with experience in banking and investments, and is currently advising business startups. 

For Position 2, David Olson, Ron Lopp, Marty McClendon, and Hans Kueck live on the Gig Harbor Peninsula. The other four candidates live in Tacoma. Olson is the only one with elected experience, currently serving on the Peninsula School Board as its vice-president. Olson has a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and manages a U.S. Bank branch office.  

Lopp has a bachelor’s degree in marine fisheries and a bachelors degree in elementary education. McClendon attended UW.  

McClendon is a real estate broker with small business experience. Kueck has an MBA and management experience. 

For Position 3, Todd Iverson and Beckie Krantz live on the Gig Harbor Peninsula, and Bruce Cook lives on the KP. The other two live in Tacoma.  

Iverson was elected as a parks commissioner (2007-present).  

Iverson has a bachelor’s degree in political science and is a longshoreman at the Port of Tacoma.  

Krantz has a bachelor’s degrees in comparative literature and French, a law degree from UPS and is the CEO of a research company that tracks pending legislation and regulations. Krantz was appointed to the GHP Advisory Commission (2007-2014), and to the Tacoma Narrows Airport Advisory Commission (2011-2014).  

Bruce Cook learned that he did not meet the 5-year residency requirement and tried unsuccessfully to remove his name from the ballot. The Auditor’s Office says that if Cook wins the primary, he will need to resign so that the next in line can take his place on the November ballot. Cook now endorses Krantz. 

Ballots must be delivered to the Auditor’s Office or mailed by Aug. 4. A drop box is also available behind the Key Center fire station, which closes at 8 p.m.. The General election will be Nov. 3, 2015. 


Information obtained from Voters Pamphlet and interviews with candidates.