Ex-campaign manager poses as writing against Tacoma candidate
A man from Tacoma is leading a written campaign for City Council, District 2, after resigning as a campaign manager for another candidate in the same race.
AJ Simoneaux Sr., who announced his candidacy via social media on September 12, applied on September 10, the Pierce County auditor’s office confirmed on Wednesday. As a registered candidate, Simoneaux’s name will not appear on the ballot or in the voters’ leaflet.
The auditor’s office only reports the votes for a registered candidate if the total number is sufficient to make a difference in the outcome of the race.
Simoneaux was hired to lead Kelly Blucher’s campaign at the end of August. After about a week of work, he told the News Tribune, he felt Blucher was unprepared and “not respecting the urgency” of the issues facing the district.
Simoneaux, who lives in District 2, said: “I felt like I had no choice but to run.”
Efforts to reach Blucher for comment were unsuccessful.
Simoneaux, 39, was born in the Philippines and has lived in the stadium area since 2019. The father of three previously worked as an army lieutenant and was first stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2010 before moving to traveling across the country for several years. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, he told The News Tribune.
Simoneaux has held a variety of jobs over the past three years, working as a high school graduation specialist, sales manager for Home2 Suites by Hilton, military intelligence officer for the U.S. Army Reserve, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Simoneaux is now the CEO of a company he created, Tactical Pause Consultancy, a policy advisory group “aimed at advancing veteran advocacy across America”. Simoneaux said he had been involved as a field organizer in other campaigns, such as Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for the Texas State Senate in 2018, Coda Rayo-Garza’s campaign for the Texas House of Representatives in 2019, Ron Nirenberg’s campaign for Mayor of San Antonio in 2019, and presidential campaigns for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for a few months in 2019.
Simoneaux was hired at the very end of August to lead his first campaign for Blucher, candidate for the municipal council of Tacoma, district 2.
He was offered the job by Prism West, who was hired by Blucher to help him build his campaign and platform. Riall Johnson of Prism West told The News Tribune that Prism West is a small business and works with around 15 clients. The company usually doesn’t have the manpower to do local organizing efforts like door-to-door, so it helps clients find campaign managers who can.
This is where Simoneaux entered the scene. Riall said Simoneaux never actually entered into a contract with Prism, but was paid for around 10 days of “good faith” work.
Riall said Simoneaux was not a good candidate for the campaign.
“Campaign managers are supposed to elect their candidate, not themselves,” Johnson told The News Tribune by telephone on Friday.
Simoneaux said he and Blucher had philosophical differences over how to conduct the campaign which peaked on September 9 when he criticized it for what he called its lack of platform. In a series of text messages he shared with The News Tribune, he also suggested that Blucher was lazy.
“AJ, I don’t want you to talk to me like that,” Blucher replied. “It’s humiliating and I won’t be called that. Calling me lazy is absolutely not acceptable.
City Council, the seat of District 2, serves parts of downtown, the Port of Tacoma, and northeast Tacoma. Blucher and Sarah Rumbaugh have been campaigning for months.
Blucher is a mother of three and is responsible for community engagement at Goodwill. She is a strong advocate for child care and housing, having experienced homelessness. She is the co-founder of Hire 253, a career fair that helps connect people, including the homeless, with employment.
Rumbaugh runs a consulting firm in Tacoma and serves on the City of Tacoma Human Rights Commission, the Pierce County Associate Ministries Board of Directors, and as a member of the Temple Beth Board of Trustees. El. She previously worked as a town planner for the town of Kent. She is also married to Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh.
Rumbaugh told the News Tribune on Thursday that she was not disturbed that a third person is participating in the race.
“I think that’s democracy,” Rumbaugh said.
Rumbaugh also defended Blucher, calling Simoneaux’s texts disrespectful and that Blucher is working full time, looking after his children while simultaneously running a campaign.
“We should be more respectful to each other,” she said.
On his website, Simoneaux lists three major topics for his campaign, including ending climate change, supporting police reform, and tackling homelessness and housing affordability. All of the Tacoma city council candidates have spoken to The News Tribune about these matters before.
Simoneaux said he experienced homelessness while in college and finding affordable housing in District 2 was “impossible”.
“Tacoma needs drastic strategies with measurable goals to bring individuals and families into housing,” according to his site. “I refuse to let local politicians go on with an apology that only puts a band-aid on the issue, rather than working to find shelter for those living on the streets of Tacoma tonight.
Simoneaux said that as a council member he would undertake weekly walks with a police officer to “ensure a working relationship between the city council and the TPD”.
“The Tacoma Police Department must fight crime, recruit officers locally and maintain a high level of professionalism,” says Simoneaux’s website. “It is imperative that we re-evaluate our recruiting practices so that the force is more representative of our community, fit both mentally and physically, and dedicated to responsibility within their ranks. “
Simoneaux also wants to end the city’s dependence on fossil fuels.
“By attracting new business to the port that can meet global needs, such as onshore storage and microprocessing plants, we can dramatically change the look of Tacoma’s economy for generations to come,” he said. he declares.