PenMet Parks director drops out of Pierce County Council race

Government: Terry Lee says he wants to keep his current focus on recreation

of the GatewayMarch 5, 2014 

The executive director of the Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District has dropped out of the Pierce County Council race to focus on his work with parks.

“I had done some soul-searching and had decided to take my name out of the race and focus on what we’re doing here at PenMet Parks,” Terry Lee said.

Lee held the county council’s District 7 seat for the maximum eight years. He reached his term limit in 2009, but the county charter allowed him to run again after a two-year break.

He jumped at the chance to run for a position he enjoyed and announced he would run in January. But he said he can’t fully devote his time to both the parks and the council, so he withdrew his name from consideration.

“I just totally enjoyed being on (the council) and thought I’d made a difference,” Lee said. “But we’ve got a lot going on here at the park district.”

Lee announced his decision Thursday morning during the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s weekly public affairs at Cottesmore of Life Care.

Incumbent Stan Flemming, R-Gig Harbor, and former Gig Harbor City Council member Derek Young, D-Gig Harbor, are still in the race.

Lee said it would be hard to give time to two positions. He sees PenMet Parks heading in a positive direction and didn’t want to slow down the momentum with a leadership transition.

PenMet Parks’ recent success at the newly acquired indoor soccer center is encouraging, Lee said. The next major project is to develop the former Peninsula Gardens site.

Lee said he wants to make PenMet Parks a model for metropolitan parks systems statewide. He wants to work on preserving open space, protecting wildlife corridors and enhancing recreation programs.

The willingness to share community assets makes working for PenMet Parks special, Lee said. He was hired as executive director in 2010 and has been on one-year renewable contracts since. His contract most recently was renewed in December.

Lee didn’t rule out a future run for the seat. He said he might consider it in another four years.

“If I felt I could continue to make improvements on this side of the bridge ... absolutely, I would consider it,” he said.

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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