Mount Rainier gets new City Councilor to fill vacancy


Mount Rainier elected officials voted to seat Jimmy Tarlau, a former state delegate and city councilor, to fill a City Council vacancy left by May’s election of Celina Benitez as mayor. 

Tarlau was voted in by a vote of three to one at Mount Rainier’s June 1, 2021, City Council meeting. Ward Two Councilor Scott Cecil voted against. Under Mount Rainier’s City Charter, the responsibility for selecting possible candidates to replace Benitez lies exclusively with the remaining Ward One representative, City Councilor Luke Chesek, who is allowed to forward up to three names for consideration. 

In nominating Tarlau, Chesek said Tarlau’s experience in city as well as state government will be an asset. 

“The biggest reason just has to do with experience,” said Chesek. “I just thought about a few people who had been in this role and Jimmy made the most sense.”

Tarlau said he was happy to be nominated to help Mount Rainier.

“I’m really just here to help the Council fulfill its mission. I hope with some of my experience and some of my contacts I’m going to help get us together and move ahead,” said Tarlau.

Tarlau, a labor organizer by trade, served for eight years on Mount Rainier’s City Council and served as a state delegate from 2015 through 2019. In state politics, Tarlau leans progressive, running on economic justice issues. After leaving the statehouse following an unsuccessful re-election bid, Tarlau also launched a pro-bono lobbying firm to work on progressive causes. More locally, Tarlau is also active in the Mount Rainier Business Association. 

Before voting against the appointment, Cecil said he wished Chesek had put more options on the table. 

“I am disappointed though that you’ve only given us one name to pick from,” said Cecil during the meeting. “I wish we had a couple of options to discuss.”

Tarlau will be serving the remaining two years of Benitez’s Ward One term, expiring May 2023.

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