Helping immigrants prepare for citizenship

One of the benefits of being a small business owner is making time to give back to community. We are a nation of immigrants, and I’ve been looking for ways to help immigrants in the South Sound.

Tacoma Community House — Citizenship Classes

Photo of citizenship tool kitI’m proud to help immigrants prepare for their U.S. citizenship interview as a volunteer in Tacoma Community House‘s Citizenship Classes. This weekend I volunteered in a citizenship class for the first time — so inspiring!

I teamed up with another volunteer, and we met with three people independently (three people from three different continents). In reviewing civics questions, I helped them learn more about the U.S. government (for example, what are the three branches of government, what are two major political parties, who is one of your U.S. Senators). At the same time, I learned more about their counties and cultures. It’s a great learning environment for the immigrants and volunteers!

Background — Citizenship Celebration

In working for the Pierce County Auditor‘s Office last year, I learned about the Auditor’s work with Tacoma Community House, the Washington State Sons of the American Revolution and others to hold a Citizenship Celebration. In this celebration, immigrants take the final step in becoming U.S. citizens and are honored in Pierce County. As U.S. citizens, they can vote — something many are excited to do!

The Pierce County Auditor received an award from the Sons of the American Revolution for the Auditor’s work on the Citizenship Celebration. As a social media contractor for the Auditor, I took pictures of the award ceremony. You can see it here:


My education and work experience should help immigrants in this citizenship class. I earned a Master’s degree in international relations and started my career working for a U.S. Senator and then a federal agency in Washington, DC (the legislative and executive branches). I’ve made friends from all over the world, and am excited to help make a difference in my community!

For more information

— Liz Satterthwaite, Engage Northwest.

Get involved in Tacoma’s waterfront park projects

Photo of waterfront along Ruston Way

The waterfront along Ruston Way in Tacoma.

If you enjoy Tacoma’s waterfront parks, get more involved in the planning process! Metro Parks Tacoma provided information about planned improvements for some waterfront parks — Dickman Mill, Ruston Way, and Foss Waterway at a March 15 open house at the Foss Waterway Seaport. Many people attended and provided input on the plans. There are still opportunities to get involved! Here’s a quick overview of some of the key projects discussed at the open house:

Dickman Mill

Dickman Mill project explained at open house

Metro Parks described the Dickman Mill project.

Metro Parks will restore the huge head saw that worked in the old Dickman Mill and publicly display it in Dickman Mill Park along Ruston Way. The expanded park would include a plaza area to view the head saw. This head saw is the last known to operate in Washington. Metro Parks gave an overview of the project, including the preferred location for the head saw.

Liz Satterthwaite with Engage Northwest represents the Tacoma Waterfront Association on the Dickman Mill Steering Committee. See Liz’s previous blog post about this project.

Envision Our Waterfront

The City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma are starting a project to envision the future of Ruston Way in the next 50-100 years. Public input is important! The City and Metro Parks are interested in knowing what people like about Ruston Way and what improvements would be needed. They are looking at infrastructure, art, activities and more. To learn more and be involved, visit the project webpage and sign up for Metro Parks’ email updates.

Envision our waterfront-display board

Foss Waterway projects

The Foss Waterway Development Authority and Metro Parks plan to build two new parks on the Foss Waterway: Central Park and Waterway Park.

Central Park would extend the public esplanade, create a new walkway to connect Dock Street to the waterfront, and include a play mound and a smokestack-looking tower inspired by the area’s industrial heritage. Waterway Park would turn the existing Berg Scaffolding building into a boathouse with restrooms and boat storage for outrigger canoes, dragon boats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. See Metro Parks webpage for more information about these projects.

Other waterfront park projects

Waterfront parks are true gems in Tacoma! Thanks to voters saying yes to park bonds in 2014, Metro Parks Tacoma is improving many waterfront parks now, including Titlow and the most popular park in the South Sound — Point Defiance Park. I plan to provide more information about these park improvements in a future blog post.

For more information

  • Presentation slides and live video from Metro Parks Tacoma’s March 15 waterfront open house is available on their website.

— Liz Satterthwaite, Engage Northwest.

Serving on Metro Parks steering committee for the Dickman Mill Park project

Liz Satterthwaite with Engage Northwest serves on Metro Parks Tacoma‘s steering committee for the Dickman Mill Park Expansion and Head Saw project. The huge saw that worked in the old Dickman Mill would be included in an expanded Dickman Mill Park along Ruston Way. The project combines history, environment, recreation, art and more.

Project Background

Photo of Dickman Mill Park

The beach area in Dickman Mill Park along Ruston Way.

To celebrate its 100th anniversary in Tacoma, Cambia Health Solutions generously gave a $2.9 million gift to fund the restoration of the historic Dickman Mill head saw and expand the park. Metro Parks will restore this historic head saw — the last known to operate in Washington — and publicly display it in Dickman Mill Park along Ruston Way in Tacoma. The expanded park would include a plaza area to view the head saw.  The project is expected to take about two to three years to complete.

The Dickman Lumber Mill operated on the Tacoma waterfront along Ruston Way for approximately 80 years. One of many lumber mills along the waterfront, the mill closed in 1974 and burned in a fire in 1979. Now the site is a park that includes a beach, wetlands, pilings, concrete foundations, and a sign describing the history of the mill.

Photo of Dickman Mill Steering Committee Meeting

The Steering Committee provides input on the locations for the head saw at Dickman Mill Park.

Steering Committee and community involvement

In its first meeting in January 2018, the steering committee reviewed and commented on three alternative locations for the head saw within Dickman Mill Park. Previously, the design team had evaluated these alternatives based on criteria such as historic integrity, visitor experience, safety, permitting and mitigation, cost and others.  The steering committee also provided feedback based on these criteria. In future meetings, the committee will review and comment on more detailed designs and other considerations. The community will also be invited to review and comment on the project in open house meetings.

Liz represents the Tacoma Waterfront Association on this steering committee.

More information about the Dickman Mill Park project: 

Managed social media for the Pierce County Auditor’s Office

The Pierce County Auditor’s Office hired Engage Northwest to manage social media on two contracts: in Fall 2016 during the November General Election and from February-June 2017 to manage social media for all of their services – licensing, recording, animal services and elections.

Photo of last voter in line

Live-tweeting on Election night.

As a part-time contractor, Liz Satterthwaite created and published content daily on the Auditor’s social media channels, including setting up the Instagram page.

The types of posts included original pictures, videos, graphics, links, and status updates. Liz monitored social media and responded to comments.


Up arrow with 33%During this time, the number of Facebook fans increased by 33.4% (almost 200 new fans). Social media encouraged Pierce residents to vote – more people registered and voted in the November 2016 election in Pierce County’s history. (See PCTV’s episode “Social media’s impact on the Pierce County General Election“).

Social media also encouraged candidates to run for political office. In May 2017, the most local candidates filed for office in an “odd-year” election (no national races). Which Facebook post received the highest social engagement? It occurred when one candidate decided to withdraw from a race after the withdrawal deadline:

Digital screen in the lobby

Using Canva, Liz created slides for a digital screen in the Auditor’s Office.  The digital screen provides information to customers in the lobby, answering questions about car tabs, passports, pet licenses, voting, and more.

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Staffed meetings and events

Liz attended meetings and events with the Auditor, including voter registration at a local high school, get out the disability vote, ride the bus, television interviews, and a community open house about Pierce County’s new voting system.

Pictures and videos

Liz took and edited pictures and videos, uploading them from the office and field. For example, she filmed the Auditor giving voting tips at five voting centers in Pierce County and regularly took pictures of customers, voters and employees. Some of the most engaged posts featured the employees in the Auditor’s Office.

Photo of Animal Control Officers Recognition Week.

The County Council recognizes Pierce County’s Animal Control Officers.

Facebook Ads

Example of Facebook ad for Korean community

Liz created Facebook ads to reach specific audiences in Pierce County. For example, Liz created an ad to reach the Korean community about voting. This ad targeted Korean-speaking residents and linked to a Korean Broadcasting System (KBS WA) interview with the Auditor. The interview was in English with Korean subtitles. The Facebook ad reached over 1800 Korean speaking residents — many are younger audiences (2/3rds were under the age of 35 and 83% were under the age of 45). People clicked to watch the video, and some liked the post and the Auditor’s Facebook page.

Thank you!

Thank you to the wonderful team at the Auditor’s Office!


Here is a compilation of photos from the November 2016 General Election.

Pierce County scores with new voting system

Photo of new digital scanner

New digital scanner

Pierce County is the first county in Washington to adopt an innovative voting system, Clear Ballot. It’s faster and more reliable — a slam dunk for elections! You can see Clear Ballot in action at an open house and demonstration on Thursday, March 30 from 5 – 7 p.m.

Digital technology

How does Clear Ballot work? A digital scanner takes a picture of each ballot. If a ballot has an issue, election workers can resolve the problem on a computer screen. No more troubles with wet or torn ballots! In the past, election workers would remake an unreadable ballot by hand. In the November 2016 General Election, over 50,000 ballots were remade — this new digital technology will save lots of time and effort!

“To say that we’re excited is an understatement,” says Julie Anderson, Pierce County Auditor in a press release.

In addition, voting centers will provide digital accessible voting units for voters living with disabilities.

Damon Townsend, Elections Supervisor, shows how the digital scanning works in this video:

What does the new system mean for voters?

Pierce County Elections and voters will use Clear Ballot for the first time in the August 1, 2017 Primary. The election will continue to be vote-by-mail, but the ballot will look different. Instead of connecting an arrow, voters will fill in an oval.

Say good-bye to this old election equipment and ballot!


Technology makes it easier

_...we intend to leverage technology to make government more accessible and convenient for our residents._Clear Ballot is just one way the Auditor’s Office uses new technology to make voting and licensing easier for residents.

License pets, renew car tabs and search for recorded documents online. On the go? Update voter registration, contact elected officials and find the closest drop box wherever you are with the mobile app, Civic Pierce County.

Social media also is a “new technology” that helps residents know about and communicate with government. Facebook posts and tweets encouraged Pierce County residents to register and vote during the November 2016 election. It will continue to be a great way to engage community! Keep informed and get involved in local government — follow the Auditor’s Facebook and Twitter pages!

Attend an open house to see Clear Ballot in action: March 30

In this season of “March madness” cheer for Pierce County’s innovative election team and new voting system! You can learn more and participate in hands-on demonstrations at a March 30 open house:

Thursday, March 30 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Pierce County Election Center
2501 S. 35th St. , Suite C, Tacoma

For more information

  • Pierce County Auditor’s press release: “Clear Ballot is the clear winner for Pierce County Elections” (March 1, 2017).
  • News Tribune article: “In the next county election, you’ll vote with ovals instead of arrows”  (March 15, 2017).
  • News Tribune article: “Connecting the arrow on your ballot a thing of the past for Pierce County voters” (November 25, 2016).
  • Pierce County Auditor’s webpage.
  • Clear Ballot’s website.

* Disclaimer – Engage Northwest is a social media contractor with the Pierce County Auditor’s Office. The pictures in this post are available on the Auditor’s Facebook page.