Puyallup Mayor says effort to unseat him motivated by his opposition to development project

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- The drama over the development of Knutson Farms is now spilling over into Puyallup’s mayoral race.

“I’ve been a leading voice in trying to get more reasonable development down here as opposed to what’s being proposed,” Mayor John Palmer said.

Knutson Farms wants to sell their land and Running Bear, a developer based out of state, wants to build seven big warehouses in addition to one under construction currently.

The land technically sits on Pierce County’s jurisdiction, but Palmer says the impacts will be on his city specifically when it comes to infrastructure and traffic. Palmer says a study showed the warehouse project would bring thousands more trips to the area, including 2,000 more trucks to Shaw Road every day.

Shaw Road is a major connector through Puyallup. Palmer says he’s concerned about other nearby roads getting jammed up as well.

Puyallup Resident Ellen Gallagher doesn’t know the politics behind the massive project, but traffic on Shaw Road is one of her biggest gripes living in Puyallup.

“More cars coming here I can’t even imagine, it’s just ridiculous,” Gallagher said.

Puyallup fought Pierce County and the other parties in the legal arena and the courts sided with Puyallup, giving them control on how to best manage the project. The city plans to do an environmental impact study.

“I am standing up for our community,” Palmer said.

Palmer says that his vocal opposition the mayor is now the main driver behind mailers sent out by a PAC calling themselves Friends of Puyallup. It’s endorsing his opponent, Paul Herrera.

The Washington Association of Realtors, which is also involved in the development dispute, is sending their own mailers in support of Herrera.

“The money speaks for itself, of the $77,000 almost entirely made up of interest in this one project, it’s a disguise,” Palmer said.

Knutson Farms, who donated to the PAC, responded on Friday.

“I don’t think it’s a disguise. I think people are just fed up with the way the city manages, the way city runs things, I think the PAC is people getting involved,” General Manager Brian Anderson said.

Anderson says the opposition goes beyond the warehouse development to issues of homelessness and money management.

Q13 News reached out to Hererra for an interview on Friday but did not hear back. It is unclear where he stands on the project.

Palmer says the money pouring into the city races specifically to unseat him is unprecedented.

“This is a David versus Goliath fight at this point when we about the scale of the money,” Palmer said.

"It’s funny you are saying David and Goliath we are just farmers,” Anderson said.

Pierce County released this statement:

“We support a property owner’s choice as to how to use their land, as long as it complies with zoning and environmental regulations.”