Woodards beats Merritt to become Tacoma's next mayor

Victoria Woodards (left) and Jim Merritt.
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Victoria Woodards has won the race for Tacoma mayor against challenger Jim Merritt.

The latest round of election returns released Thursday shows Woodards earned 54 percent of the vote (18,291 votes), and Merritt garnered 46 percent (15,518 votes) with over 33,000 votes counted.

Former Tacoma City Councilmember Woodards served as Deputy Mayor in 2014 and is currently the director of Community Development for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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Former Tacoma City Councilmember Woodards served as Deputy Mayor in 2014 and is currently the director of Community Development for the Tacoma Rainiers.

"I told my story over and over again about a little Tacoma girl who wanted to do right by a city that had done so right by her...Everyone in this city should have an opportunity to fulfill their full potential," Woodards said Tuesday night.

Tacoma architect Merritt earned the “Tacoma Hometown Hero” in 2003 from then-Mayor Bill Baarsma. Merritt also ran for Tacoma mayor in 2009.

Woodards replaces Mayor Marilyn Strickland, who was sworn in in 2010. Term limits restricted Strickland from running for reelection.

Both candidates have said job creation is a top priority for them.

Environmental issues have also taken a forefront due to a proposed liquid natural gas plant on the waterfront. Woodards is in support of the plant. Merritt has said he has more questions before moving forward with the plant.