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Walker, Harris square off for Pacific Council position No. 7 seat
With four seats up for grabs on the Pacific City Council, the Nov. 5 general election is a critical one for residents of the beleaguered city as its continues to rebound from the recall of former Mayor Cy Sun.
Among the contested seats is Position No. 7, where incumbent Tren Walker, the City Council president, faces Ronnie M. Harris.
Walker, 37, is running for his third term on the council.
A 12-year resident of Pacific, Walker decided to run for council after the birth of his daughter more than eight years ago.
"I thought if I'm going to raise a family here, I should come down and get involved and have a say in what happens," Walker said.
A 1994 graduate of Federal Way High School, Walker – who works for a national telecommunications company – is attending online classes for Walden University to earn his degree in instructional design and technology.
After winning his seat in the 2005 election, Walker quickly set about learning the ins and outs of city government.
"That first term was a blur, learning how government really works," he said.
One of the things he does remember, however, was helping to form the Valley Regional Fire Authority, which combined fire departments from Auburn, Pacific and Algona into one organization in 2007.
"I was on the steering committee and I've served on the board since its inception," he said. "Just the advancements we've seen in the fire department since then are impressive. Pacific has a brand new fire engine. (It) would have been very difficult for us to afford (it) if we were just a city fire department. As a whole the fire authority has purchased a ladder truck, two new aid cars and two engines and built two stations from the ground up and renovated one."
Walker also credits the VRFA leadership for helping to reduce insurance payments for residents in its coverage area.
Walker said his time on the council has been enjoyable, but admits that having to deal with the turmoil that came with the contentious Sun era was difficult.
"It took a lot of time," he said. "I'd take a vacation day from work, come down to check my mail and end up staying for four hours talking. I felt like everybody was comfortable coming to me. I think I was that go-between. But it took a lot of time. I was on the phone every day talking with someone trying to work through problems. It got pretty stressful."
Now, with old rifts hopefully on the mend in the city, Walker is looking forward to making progress on a few projects close to his heart.
"I want to see our police department accredited and make sure they're fully staffed," Walker said. "I think everybody's priority is public safety, not just fire but police as well."
Walker also said he has parks at the top of his list.
"I want to see a dog park and I want to see a skate park for the kids," he said. "And I want to help fund that by working to get grants to do that kind of cool stuff that we can do."
Technology also is a top priority.
"I would like to work to introduce technology that will help local government become more transparent and inviting for the citizens," he said. "I would like to update the City website so residents can get updated information about what is happening in town. Eventually I would like to see council packets, minutes, audio recordings and eventually video recordings of the meetings online so more people can see what is happening at City Hall. I would also like to bring Channel 21 (the City's public access channel) technology into the 21st century so we share information about events, meetings, and even emergency situations quickly. I think the technology committee will be getting very busy in the coming months."
RONNIE M. HARRIS
Harris did not return emails or phone calls requesting interviews and information. Harris, who originally filed for the Position No. 5 seat before withdrawing and throwing his hat in for the No. 7 seat, also has not submitted any Voters Pamphlet information with the King County or Pierce County elections departments.