Every four years, Tacoma chooses who will make it to the 12th floor. For the last eight years, the mayoral office was occupied by Marilyn Strickland.
“People talk about Seattle being so progressive they've had their second female mayor in what like 100 years. We've had three in the span of 30 years,” she said.
Strickland was the second female mayor in Tacoma and the first black female mayor. Victoria Woodards is now the second black female mayor in Tacoma.
“It's amazing - two African American women who are passing a torch like this,” said Woodards.
“Aside from Baltimore, I don't know where this has happened in America. I really don't,” added Strickland. “I think the fact that Victoria and I got elected as back to back mayors says a lot about this community and how open-minded they are and how they're willing to look at people based on their qualification and experience as opposed to the color of their skin.”
Strickland and Woodards both note that this moment is also a reminder that there are barriers that must be challenged
“If we have people who represent parties that say they are about diversity and inclusion, that diversity and inclusion has to go beyond a photo op for a campaign. Recruit people of color and women. Bring us to the table and make sure they have as much support as the people that you traditionally support,” said Strickland.
Washington has a record number of women mayor cross the state.
“I think before the election in November, we had 11 women mayors in Washington state. We now have 37,” said Strickland.
“I'm proud to build on the foundation that she laid, ”said Woodards. “I'm proud to stand on her shoulders. Marilyn has persevered, and she really is a leader that this whole city can be proud of, especially as an African American woman, but especially as a human being. I'm so grateful of the service that she has given our city and for the example that she has set."
“If women are going to succeed in office, we have to do a better job of supporting each other. Encouraging people to come to office and helping them be successful,” said Strickland
“When the year that I ran for mayor and she ran for city council, there was a conversation among some folks in the African American community of, do you think Tacoma would elect two African American women in the same cycle? Some said I think one of them should step down. We were like, you know what I've never heard - a conversation about any other group of people saying if they should not run at the same time. But you know what? If Tacoma is not ready, they better get ready because we're going to run and we're going to win. And we did.”
“I think as women, we're often socialized and taught to be super cautious and not take risks. And I think the more you succeed in your career you realize it's okay to take chances,” said Strickland.