Former Tacoma Mayor To Lead Seattle Region's Largest Business Group | KNKX

Former Tacoma Mayor To Lead Seattle Region's Largest Business Group

Jan 31, 2018

Since former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland left office weeks ago, political observers have wondered what's next for her.

Now, they have an answer.

Strickland, who was term limited after eight years in office, is taking over leadership of the region's largest business lobbying group, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

She takes over for Maud Daudon, the first woman to serve as the chamber's president, who announced in the fall she was planning to leave after six years in the post. 

Strickland has a master's degree in business administration and worked in the business world, including in management at Starbucks, before serving on the Tacoma City Council.

She was first elected mayor in 2009.

In Tacoma, Strickland had a reputation for being friendly to business and prioritizing economic development. She made several overseas trips to court investors, and is credited with raising the city's profile across the country and abroad. 

But she also oversaw the rollout of worker-friendly policies like the city's paid sick leave law and a $12 minimum wage

In Seattle, her job will include advocating for the interests of some 2,200 companies spread across four counties.

"One of my top priorities will be working with business, government and non-profit leaders toward solutions that keep our region globally competitive," Strickland said in a news release.

"A strong, vibrant business environment is key to addressing the challenges that we face," she added.

Strickland takes over chamber as the organization finds itself at odds with Seattle's most progressive politicians and activists over the solutions to some of those challenges.

The chamber opposed an income tax on high earners in Seattle, criticized the city's $15 minimum wage, and raised concerns about a city law designed to give hourly workers more predictable schedules. 

But the chamber came out in support of a 2016 tax hike designed to ease Seattle's housing affordability crisis.

Heather Redman, chair of the chamber's board of trustees, said Strickland "is fearless about taking on challenges in a collaborative way -- a trait that will be essential as our region works through issues such as education, housing, and transportation, all of which have big implications for our long-term prosperity."

Strickland was hired as the chamber's president out of more than 50 candidates, the chamber said in a news release. She is set to begin the week of Feb. 19.