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Victoria Woodards Leads Jim Merritt In Tacoma Mayoral Race

Will James
Victoria Woodards hugs a campaign supporter Tuesday night after getting an early lead in Tacoma's mayoral race.

Former City Councilwoman Victoria Woodards leads local architect Jim Merritt by about four percentage points in Tacoma's mayoral race.

At her election night party Tuesday evening, Woodards said she is ready to leave behind a campaign that was at times negative and personal.

"We're going to talk about jobs and safety and homelessness," she said in an interview. "We're going to focus on that and people who want to deal with negativity, they can do that on their own time. But in Tacoma, we're going to move forward."

Some supporters of Woodards, who is black, say she faced criticisms that had a racial subtext during the campaign. Merritt supporters took issue with an ad comparing him to President Donald Trump, which was paid for by a coalition of business interests.

Woodards has faced criticism from Tacoma residents opposed to a liquefied natural gas project that she has supported. But she also has endorsements from outgoing Mayor Marilyn Strickland and the rest of the City Council.

Merritt's campaign says they did not get the results they hoped for, but the race is too close to call.

"We are still optimistic the outcome of this race will be in favor of Jim," Merritt's campaign said in a Facebook post. "It's going to be a long night ahead while we wait for the next round of vote counts."

The next ballot return is expected Wednesday afternoon.

Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.