Disenfranchised or Shanghaied? How the urban area in the south county is silenced politically


Is the Pierce County Regional Council (PCRC) – a shadow government designed to shanghai the rights of a large portion of the electorate to govern themselves? Disenfranchisement is a game that is played when a group in power seeks to make their minority opinion wield more power than that of the majority. Look at how the PCRC organization is constructed.

In Pierce County, Washington, the unincorporated areas that are urban in designation and population, have no more representation than the areas that are totally rural and also share that representation with the cities within the county, they are county councilmembers. In other words, there are no assigned members exclusive to the voters of the unincorporated areas of the county. Particularly the roughly 199,000 in what they call they “City of Pierce.” (from Pierce County) This uncovered area is the second largest urban community in the county! (Tacoma is #1) In terms of membership on PCRC, Tacoma (3), University Place (2), Puyallup (2), Lakewood (2) Pierce County (4). The other cities have one representative each.

The website for the PCRC notes they are: “created to ensure planning between Pierce County and its cities and towns was accomplished in a coordinated, consistent manner. The Council is comprised of elected officials from Pierce County, each of its 23 cities and towns, and the Port of Tacoma. The primary responsibility of the PCRC is to ensure that the Growth Management Act requirements are coordinated within the County and the region.”

Here is the kicker. They accomplish this “through the implementation of the Pierce County Countywide Planning Policies.”

So the organization is obviously designed to put pressure on the county council and county executive who have membership on the committee although they supposedly also represent the unincorporated areas that are not allowed on the committee (or to speak if they decide to visit the committee when it meets).

PCRC calls itself a sub-regional council to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) a group which is composed of elected officials from King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce Counties. A group which further dilutes the voters of Pierce County by meeting in King County and spreading consensus across four counties.

The regional council concept was supposedly designed to bring local governments together to coordinate growth and services across the urban areas. What they have accomplished is creating policies and pursuing legislation without the true consent of the governed. They are an elite organization of elected officials in an autonomous setting with little to no community input.

Their meetings are designed to provide “guidance for issues the group will be pursuing in its efforts to coordinate down to the municipal level and up to the regional level. To assist in these efforts, the PCRC is supported by two technical subcommittees: The Growth Management Coordinating Committee (GMCC), which is made up of planning officials from each of the cities and towns in Pierce County, and the Transportation Coordinating Committee (TCC), which is made up of transportation officials.”

According to the Pierce County Auditor’s Office there are roughly 487,329 registered voters in Pierce County (as of 10/21/2016). The total population in 2015 is estimated at 843,954. So roughly 57.7% of the population are voters. That means the City of Pierce has about 114,823 voters. The City of Tacoma was estimated at 205,159 in 2014, so by relation they would have about 118,376 voters. Lakewood in 2014 is listed with a population of 81,653.

That said, ask yourself… How can the county ignore an area with a population roughly equivalent to the City of Tacoma and give it NO representation of its own? Seems they should have 3 members to themselves.

Is it no wonder that little gets done out here south of Clover Creek?

Here is the composition of the Pierce County Regional Council: Tacoma (3), University Place (2), Puyallup (2), Lakewood (2) Pierce County (4) other cities (1)


City of Auburn •Representative: Deputy Mayor Richard Wagner

City of Bonney Lake •Representative: Councilmember Donn Lewis

City of Buckley •Representative: Councilmember Milt Tremblay (Vice Chair)

Town of Carbonado •Representative: Mayor Wally Snover

City of DuPont •Representative: unfilled

Town of Eatonville •Representative: Mayor Mike Schaub

City of Edgewood •Representative: Mayor Daryl Eidinger

City of Fife •Representative: Councilmember Tim Curtis

City of Fircrest •Representative: Councilmember Shannon Reynolds

City of Gig Harbor •Representative: Mayor Jill Guernsey

City of Lakewood •Representative Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen

City of Lakewood •Representative Councilmember Paul Bocchi

City of Milton •Representative: Mayor Debra Perry

City of Orting •Representative: Mayor Joe Pestinger

City of Pacific •Representative: Councilmember David Storaasli

Pierce County • Executive Pat McCarthy

Pierce County • Councilmember Doug Richardson

Pierce County • Councilmember Rick Talbert

Pierce County • Councilmember Derek Young

Port of Tacoma •Representative: Commissioner Don Meyer

City of Puyallup •Representative Deputy Mayor John Palmer

City of Puyallup •Representative Councilmember Tom Swanson

City of Roy •Representative: Councilmember Yvonne Starks

Town of Ruston •Representative: Mayor Bruce Hopkins

Town of South Prairie •Representative: Councilmember Stu Terry

Town of Steilacoom •Representative: Mayor Ron Lucas

City of Sumner •Representative: Councilmember Patrick Reed

City of Tacoma •Representative Councilmember Joe Lonergan (Chair)

City of Tacoma •Representative Councilmember Anders Ibsen

City of Tacoma •Representative Councilmember Conor McCarthy

City of University Place •Representative Councilmember Caroline Belleci

City of University Place •Representative Councilmember Denise McCluskey

Town of Wilkeson •Representative: Mayor Robert Walker

Ex-Officio / Associate Members

Pierce County Library District •Representative: Georgia Lomax

Pierce Transit •Representative: Jay Peterson

Puget Sound Regional Council •Representative: Pavithra Parthasarathi

South Sound Military & Communities Partnership •Representative: Bill Adamson

Washington State Dept. of Transportation •Representative: Tom Washington


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Paula Morris says:

    It appears that government without representation is the name of the game across Federal, State, and now county boards. Perhaps the “elite” among us feel that the citizenry is too “stupid” to understand what’s going on?

    When an individual is elected to a position, that infers that the people who elected that person, agree with, and support the platform of that individual. In other words, it’s a reciprocal venture. Not so these days. There is nothing reciprocal about our present government system.

    How we get to “government by the people” is the question facing us all. As citizens, we need to inform ourselves to the best of our ability. We need to take inventory of our own beliefs and values and then take a stand, hold fast to those beliefs, and elect only those who represent our interests. Enough of electing people who are against our best interests. And even more…enough of electing the “lesser” of two evils. We need big change in our electoral system and process. We need it now!

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the really informative article. I would assume that the makeup of the P “C” RC also excludes all of us in the UGA and rural areas too. Councilmen Richardson, Talbert, and Young who are listed as “our” Pierce County representatives may actually only support Lakewood, Tacoma, and Gig Harbor respectively. I would think that the News Tribune might have some interest in this. Thanks again.

    1. Precisely. The county representation that is provided is also disenfranchising. None of them represent the area other than a sliver of Parkland and Midland.

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