Julie Door never saw herself in politics.
The lifelong Puyallup resident’s political career started when she wanted a halfway house on Shaw Road to offer more resources to clients. Door said the property had limited access to public transportation and social services, meaning the opportunities for rehabilitation were limited.
“Politics was not in my cards. It was not something I aspired to be in,” she told The Herald. “But this is my home. I care about it and my neighbors and my community.”
She rallied neighbors and became the voice for a 2013 ordinance that bars more than one registered sex offender or violent felon from living in a halfway house without services.
“If you don’t set them up for success, you set the city up for failure,” Door said. Later that year, she was sworn into a vacant seat on Puyallup’s City Council, where she’s served six years representing District 3.
Now she’s the city’s mayor. She assumed the role Jan. 7 for a two-year term.
She said her first objective is to unite Puyallup. She wants residents to realize that the dais may hold heated debate, but that just means both sides love the city and care enough to get involved.
Door spearheaded a social media campaign, “#LoveMyPuyallup,” as a response to citywide tension on homelessness, development and legal fights. Door wants people to remember that the city has a lot to offer.
“All communities have challenges, and if we choose to focus on that, we create our own reality,” Door said.
Door aims to address homelessness by looking at the causes, which she says are a lack of mental health resources and affordable housing. The issue has been put on the back burner, and it needs to be at the forefront, she said.
“We’ve said no to everything, yet it’s getting worse. The path we’ve been on isn’t working,” she said.
Door has been a strong advocate for the police department in her position on the South Sound 911 Policy Board and the Pierce County Opioid Task Force. She has continually pushed to get a bond on the ballot for a public safety building, and would like to bring a proposal to voters before the end of the year.
The police station and jail on Pioneer Avenue have held the police department for about 60 years. Police officials have been asking the council for more than 10 years for a new building, saying they have outgrown the current one. They said they’ve kept equipment and files in storage containers and rented office space at the neighboring credit union.
Door compared the building to a car, saying repairs are costing more than the building is worth.
“There is a cost to doing nothing,” Door said.
City officials expect to hear from public safety building consultants by the end of the month on projected designs and costs. Door said if voters don’t pass the measure, the city has to come up with an alternative.
“The status quo isn’t working,” she said.
The Development Department is getting new permitting software that city employees and council members believe will help streamline the permitting process. Puyallup residents, developers and business owners have complained for years of a laborious and difficult permit process.
City officials hope an easier process and the rollout of the city’s downtown development plan will spur economic growth.
“We need to revitalize our downtown corridor. It’s a top priority,” Door said.
Door tends to vote with City Council members John Palmer and Robin Farris, including on controversial issues like zoning for homeless shelters, supporting the former city manager and rejecting the strong mayor initiative.