Municipal/Other Questionnaire 2022
Candidate Name: Linda Farmer
Position Sought: Pierce County Auditor
Are you an incumbent for this position? Non-incumbent
Home Legislative District: 28
Are you a Democrat? Yes
Campaign Manager or Point of Contact: Nic van Putten, Progressive Strategies Northwest
Mailing Address: 6909 75th St. SW, Lakewood, WA 98498
Part I – Candidate Background
1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.
I bring more than 20 years of executive management experience in communications and marketing in both the private and public sectors. I’ve worked for Pacific Lutheran University and the Association of Washington School Principals in addition to two South Sound cities, the Pierce County Library System and the state.
In my current role as the Chief Communications Officer for the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, I am actively engaged in ensuring that people can find, understand and use vital public services. This is an essential skillset for the Auditor because of all the County offices, this one most directly involves customer service to the public.
In 2019, I was elected to the non-partisan Lakewood City Council where I’ve been able to expand the Council’s actions on human services, equity and the environment. In 2016, I served on the non-partisan Pierce County Charter Review Commission while running for Pierce County Council District 6 as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Doug Richardson.
I am active in my community. I currently volunteer on the South Sound Housing Affordability Partners Executive Board and the Washington State Sex Offender Policy Board. I just ended a seven-year term on the Community Advisory Board of KNKX 88.5 Public Radio and have previously served on the boards of Citizens for a Healthy Bay (now known as Communities for a Healthy Bay) and City Club of Tacoma.
I hold a master’s degree in Communications Management from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in Editorial Journalism and Political Science from the University of Washington. I am nationally accredited in public relations.
I live in a proud union household. My husband, Jimmie, is a 20+ year member of AFSCME Local 120 as a tech worker at the City of Tacoma. I’ve called Pierce County home for more than 30 years. Jimmie and I live in Lakewood with our daughter, Dylan, who attends Lakes High School.
2. What prompted you to run for this office?
We’ve seen nationally that our democracy is under attack from partisan misinformation. I feel compelled to run to protect the quality and independence of our Auditor’s Office so that Pierce County voters can continue to have confidence in the legitimacy of our elections.
3. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?
In the little more than a month since I declared my candidacy, I’ve earned the endorsements of Federal and State officials Denny Heck, Marilyn Strickland, Derek Kilmer, Rick Talbert, Laurie Jinkins, and dozens of Legislators, County, and Municipal elected officials as well as the Pierce County Democratic Party. Additionally, I’ve raised $5,500 so far and have a campaign plan to reach the voters by phone, text, video and more.
4. What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)?
–Strengthening our exceptional standard of election integrity
–Improving civic education and engagement
–Delivering public services efficiently and effectively
Part II – Yes/No Questions, please qualify your answer if necessary
1. Do you support steps to build a fairer economy through tax reform and progressive taxes as wealth increases? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #1
2. Do you support robust investment in publicly owned housing/subsidized housing for elderly and low-income individuals/families, and zoning changes to support such housing? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #2
3. Developer impact fees are allowed under the Growth Management Act. Should they be increased to help pay for needed improvements to our roads, parks, and schools? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #3
4. Do you support building a municipally owned and operated broadband system in your city or jurisdiction? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #4
5. Do you support local investments to address climate change where applicable? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #5
6. Do you support women’s unrestricted access to reproductive healthcare? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #6
7. Do you support laws regulating the purchase, ownership, and carrying of firearms? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #7
8. Do you support the right of workers to unionize and bargain, including public employees? Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #8
Part III – Free Response (Please answer at least four fully, and consider the additional three optional)
1. Why are you requesting Democratic endorsement? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you?
I am seeking the Democratic endorsement because I am a Democrat and I live by Democratic values. I believe government at all levels has an important role to play in improving the lives of residents, protecting their civil rights and creating an inclusive society where people are seen, heard and valued regardless of age, gender identity, race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.
Two aspects of the Pierce County Democratic platform in particular resonate for me:
–Recognition that diversity strengthens our nation,
–Recognition that we are responsible for our ethical, economic, environmental and educational legacy
I have consistently demonstrated Democratic values such as these in my career as an elected official. As a Lakewood City Councilmember, I fought for the Council to broaden its influence to include a stronger focus on the environment – we now have one of the region’s only climate change chapters in our comprehensive plan, and equity – I was instrumental in the city adopting its first-ever equity statement and I initiated the effort to secure a budgetary commitment to hire the city’s first-ever DEI manager.
2. What public policy reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC and LBQIA+ individuals in our communities?
Policy reform starts at the top. I support local governments finding the funding to hire qualified equity specialists to conduct equity reviews of government functions and systemic practices, and then create a strategic DEI plan with reasonable and attainable goals. As a Lakewood City Councilmember, I helped draft the city’s first ever equity statement as well as getting equity and inclusion added to our Council Goals. I went a step further and advocated that the city hire its first ever DEI manager so this work within the city could begin.
3. What steps do you think need to be taken to improve voter turnout and increase voter trust in our election process?
The answer to both parts of this question is more communication and two-way engagement.
Voter turnout: Pierce County typically has a low voter turnout in non-presidential elections. In the November 2020 General Election, voter turnout was 82.26% in Pierce County, yet in November of 2021 (a non-presidential year) voter turnout was 32.30%. As noted above, increasing civic education and engagement at the very least in non-presidential years (when national news stories and advertising are largely absent) will go a long way to helping residents understand that there is an election, that it relates to them, and that they should make their voice (their vote) heard. In addition, several of the steps taken recently will continue to improve access to voting, including automatic registration and postage-free ballots.
Voter trust: There are many things election administrators can do to increase voter trust such as testing equipment, reviewing protocols and conducting routine and professional – not partisan – audits, but those actions won’t increase voter trust unless the public actually knows about them. The Auditor’s Office needs to be properly staffed and resourced in order to communicate with the public that our election process is both fair and secure.
4. What important local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the local media?
The media and some elected officials continue to convey that the changes needed in our approach to the environment will come at a cost to the economy. That is simply not the case. More than 20 countries have reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions while steadily increasing their GDPs, and that’s just one example. Global and local economic growth can be maintained with mitigated climate impacts when done properly, swiftly and at the appropriate scale. More elected officials need to be working harder to debunk the myth that it’s either/or, and do tangible things to bring the passionate people on both sides of the issue together to work for real change. Unfortunately, getting passionate people to work together is hard work. It takes time, energy and patience in addition to finding time in a municipal regulatory calendar. As a Lakewood City Councilmember, I led a Council sub-committee to appoint a diverse group of residents and business interests to work together to advise the city on needed changes to its outdated and insufficient tree ordinance within the city’s comprehensive plan. That work is ongoing as the city’s planning commission now takes up the recommendations as part of its regular work to get the tree ordinance ready for Council review as part of the city’s almost year-long process to update its comprehensive plan. I am an elected official who takes the non-partisan charge seriously. I am ready to do the work required to make sure all voices are not only at the table, but that they are seen, heard and considered.
5. Please list at least three specific, concrete actions you would support to ease the homelessness crisis.
6. What safety, law, or justice issues are currently facing your jurisdiction, and how will you address them?
7. What are the transportation/transit challenges which face your jurisdiction and how would you address them? What role does green energy play in your proposed solutions?
By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.
Printed Name: Linda Farmer
Date (mm/dd/yy): 06/24/2022