Tacoma City Council District 4

Subtitle: Anatomy of a Response

Over the past week, we’ve had two of the three candidates for Tacoma City Council District 4 come door-to-door. Both were very brief, both were essentially saying hello and handing out a pamphlet/flyer about their ideas. One was a slick, well-designed trifold pamphlet….the other a small, very basic flyer printed on something close to cardstock.

But I don’t vote on such surface things, and just did not have enough to go by. So I emailed both candidates the following email–and emailed together, so that they could see I was emailing both of them:

As the two candidates that have thus far gone door-to-door to actually meet folks in the district, you are the front-runners for our votes. However, have a few questions for you to help us decide our votes.

1. What do you consider to be the #1 issue within the District? (And yes, am looking for a singular issue)

2. How do you propose the answer to the above be addressed?

3. What do you see as the role of the Councilman (and yes, I realize that may not be politically-correct, but is meant in the generic, non-gender sense)?

4. And now, for a situational question…one that has happened multiple times over the 10.5 years we’ve been in our house in the District: I wake up in the morning to find that one of our vehicles has been the victim of a hit-and-run during the night. Call TPD, but they will not send an officer to make a report or collect any possible evidence, and seem unwilling to do anything. I contact you…what do you do? (Once you reply, I’ll give the answer of what Rick did and how effective it was…and the intrinsic problem with it)

Thanks much—look forward to hearing back from you both!

The answers were quite telling. I do have to point out something, however. My questions were worded the way they were on purpose.

Reply number one (received first) in black, with my comments in red:


1. The number one issue is the need to establish a community policing system that requires officers to be accountable for specific neighborhoods and requires them to routinely traverse these assigned areas by foot, horseback, or bicycle. Ok, first of all, I asked for an issue, not a solution or a need.

2. By going door-to-door and talking to neighbors this is what they want to see for our neighborhoods. Therefore, as your full-time time representative (as opposed to an evening council chamber voter) I would organize these individuals to meet with the Police Chief and Mayor to implement this much needed solution for the safety of District 4 residents. Ok, I understand the stance on being in the position full-time rather than the part-time position the Council was created to be. But anyone in business–or life, frankly–should understand that amount of time is less of a factor as efficiency. I’d rather see an efficient and effective part-timer than someone who simply touts being a full-timer.

3. Role of the Councilman for District 4 is to work full-time to implement community improvements for the safety of our residents, neighborhood by neighborhood. What about representing the people of the District and our concerns, or fighting for specific issues? This sounds far too much like top-heavy government mandating things to the people. Plus, it is really vague…

4. Assuming we had in place the “on-the ground” community policing model recommended by District 4 constituents (see above) we would have more accountability for the situation you describe. Therefore, we would first contact the Officer responsible for your specific neighborhood. If this process did not result in an adequate response then we would move on and request that the Chief convene a meeting to resolve this situation for all involved parties. While this sounds good as part of the solution, I do not think it is realistic to place the responsibility of an area on an officer. He’s not the one committing the crimes. And as far as the last part of the solution, I’m not a big fan of meetings…

Great questions and please do let me know how the “last” part-timer responded. And this is the comment that lost it all. What I did not write in my email was that Rick Talbert gained our trust and respect by fast and appropriate action, and with concern for the multiple issues we’ve faced since we moved into the area 10 years ago. In the examples regarding little or no police response, he did a simple thing: he made a phone call. TPD has become a political organization here in Tacoma, and he applied political pressure. Ideal, no. Desired, no. But he was effective in dealing with the reality of what the TPD was. This comment, to me, seemed a jab at Rick. To me, was quite disrespectful, regardless of whether it was intended or not. Words have meaning.
4 for 4 What?! In baseball, only base hits are counted. Not so much here.
Susanne Marten

The second reply:

Hello Scott,

Thank you so very much for contacting me and providing the opportunity to earn your vote! (a nicer intro!)

Here are my responses to your questions:

1. The No. 1 issue in District 4 is public safety. We can’t meet any of our other objectives in attracting investments, creating a stronger quality of life, or improving our education system until our streets are safe and clean. (answered the question, and with an answer I happen to agree with)

2. I would approach this public safety issue from many angles, starting with the community. I want to create a more robust partnership with Safe Streets so that each section of our District has a block watch. Also, there are so many simple things that community members can do to fight crime, and my thoughts on all of these ideas are contained in www.endeastsidecrime.com. I would work to spread the word about these simple things as your councilmember. I’m also very honored that I’ve been endorsed by the Tacoma Police Union #6 for my ideas on how to reduce crime and eliminate blight in our area, and I would continue to make sure that we have a fully-staffed and supported police and code enforcement force. I LOVED this answer. Rather than mandating a solution, this partners the community with private groups and the police. You get buy-in from the community.

3. I believe the role of the councilmember is to understand its constituents, and work to create or improve policies that meet the needs of the community. I also think this position needs to be an ambassador for the District, in showing potential investors and residents all of our area’s potential. One of my main goals is to be much, much more visible in our community, and to bring the governmental focus to the Eastside and South End to ensure and prove that the City really does care about this area. Again, another great, well-thought-out answer. And on-target.

4. If you had called me to let me know that your vehicle had AGAIN been in a hit and run :(, I would want to gather more information, and work on the bigger-picture issue of traffic problems like speeding. I’d work with the City’s Traffic Engineering group to find out how many accidents have occurred in that area, and bring the community together with those City engineers who can offer various ideas on how to handle these traffic problems. I realize that its extremely frustrating that a police officer didn’t respond, but often they don’t have time amongst the competing priorities. That’s why I’d want to take a comprehensive
look at how to solve the lasting problem for the betterment of your block. Also, if we as a community could work together to create an even stronger focus on public safety, and if the crime rate was reduced, that could free up officers to respond to these hit-and-run crimes.
As I responded to her, this seems to be the next logical step to what Rick Talbert did in our specific situations.

I’m interested to hear how Councilmember Talbert responded to this concern. No jab, no disrespect. Appropriate.

Again and again, I thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, and if you have any feedback on my answers, I do hope that you’ll let me know.

I also have my fingers crossed that you and yours will please pick me! (Lighthearted…loved it. Shows she is REAL.)


Roxanne Murphy
Tacoma City Council District 4

Because of the wonderful, well-thought out responses and great ideas, we’ve proudly given our votes and support to Roxanne Murphy for Tacoma City Council District 4.

Note: While I support Constitutional free speech, my disclaimer addresses this matter clearly. I realize this post may draw some response, but I will not allow responses to remain that are disrespectful, offensive, or just plain not adding to the conversation.

Subtitle: Anatomy of a Response Over the past week, we’ve had two of the three candidates for Tacoma City Council District 4 come door-to-door. Both were very brief, both were essentially saying hello and handing out a pamphlet/flyer about their ideas. One was a slick, well-designed trifold pamphlet….the other a small, very basic flyer printed…


  1. Hi Scott,I'm not in your district so i won't be able to join you in voting for Roxanne Murphy — but you're absolutely right in your comments to both of the replies to your email. Well done!