Erica Norton is a candidate for Federal Way City Council. Photo courtesy of Erica Norton

Erica Norton is a candidate for Federal Way City Council. Photo courtesy of Erica Norton

Council candidate Erica Norton removes Teamsters endorsement from campaign info

Federal Way City Council candidate Erica Norton has removed a false endorsement from her campaign literature after the Teamsters 117 union, which endorsed her opponent, threatened to take legal action.

On Oct. 15, Teamsters 117 General Counsel sent a cease and desist letter to Norton for “misrepresenting” that she received an endorsement from the union “despite being informed repeatedly that Teamsters 117 has not endorsed you,” the letter reads. “In fact, we have endorsed your opponent.”

Teamsters 117 represents over 17,000 members throughout the state in public service and private sector jobs, including the City of Federal Way Police Commanders and Lieutenants, according to the union.

The union endorsed Federal Way City Council Pos. 2 incumbent Greg Baruso, who is Norton’s opponent, after he completed the endorsement process in full.

Endorsements by the union are earned through a standard process including a request for endorsement, questionnaire and in-person meeting, said Dustin Lambro, political director for Teamsters 117. The final decision of who earns an endorsement is made by the union’s elected leadership after a recommendation from the political committee.

“She never once contacted us to ask for an endorsement,” Lambro said of Norton in an Oct. 19 phone call with the Mirror.

The Mirror has emailed Norton seeking further comment.

On Sept. 15, Federal Way Police Lt. Mark Bensen emailed Norton and three other city council candidates notifying them of the police lieutenants’ endorsement. In previous years and prior to the lieutenants joining the Teamsters union in Feb. 2020, Bensen said they often endorsed candidates based on consensus of the 13 Federal Way members.

“It was a lesson learned on our part,” Bensen said in a phone call with the Mirror. “Next time there’s a race, we will definitely be involved with the Teamsters through the process.”

Bensen said while they realize they can’t offer their official endorsement, they do still support the candidates listed in his email as “we think these people will do the best job putting public safety first.”

Earlier this month, Lambro said he was made aware of the false endorsement listed on Norton’s campaign website and literature. He phoned Norton and asked her to remove the endorsement listing, to which Norton said she would, Lambro said.

On Oct. 15, the endorsement remained on her website, so the union attorney sent a cease and desist letter to Norton to remove the listing, Lambro said.

“How do you force a candidate to remove something on their own website?” Lambro said. “If someone’s going to be that dishonest as a candidate, how are they going to act as an elected official?”

Lambro said he is disappointed in how events unfolded, but said “it’s not fair to a voter who’s making a decision … I shouldn’t have had to go that far.”

The Mirror received a copy of the cease and desist letter on Oct. 15 and asked Norton for comment on the false endorsement listing.

Norton said she received a phone call on Oct. 10 from a Teamsters 117 representative who said the police lieutenant that emailed an endorsement on behalf of the Federal Way Police lieutenants did not have the authority to grant an endorsement.

“I promptly removed the endorsement from my website that day, but didn’t see the widget at the bottom of the page, otherwise I would have removed it on October 10th,” Norton wrote in an Oct. 15 email to the Mirror. Adding that as the letter was dated that same day, “I fully accommodated the demand on the date of the letter, which hasn’t been filed in any court or seen by any Judge. Thank you for notifying me of the remaining content, I removed it.”

In addition to her website, the “Federal Way Police Lieutenants Union” endorsement was printed on a flyer mailed to residents prior to Oct. 15, she said.

“Nothing else has been distributed or published by my campaign with that endorsement on it since the October 10th conversation with the union representative,” she wrote in the Oct. 15 email.

The Teamsters 117 union has also endorsed Federal Way City Council Pos. 5 candidate and incumbent Leandra Craft.

Teamsters letter to Norton campaign by Andy Hobbs on Scribd

Lt Bensen Letter of Endorsement by Andy Hobbs on Scribd

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Police lights
1 man fatally shot near Federal Way Crossings

Federal Way Police are investigating; no suspect information yet.

File photo
Survey data suggests how the pandemic has changed attitudes toward housing in King County

More than half of King County survey participants say they will move in the next five years.

King County weather: Dec. 9-13

Here’s the King County area weather forecast for Dec. 9-13, 2021. Thursday… Continue reading

File photo
Subway employee pepper sprayed, robbed | Police blotter

Following is a sample from the Federal Way police log Dec. 1-7.

Redmond’s Silver Cloud Inn, purchased by county to become permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless (photo credit: Cameron Sheppard)
King County Council approves plan for future of housing-first approach to homelessness

The plan will govern expenditures of Health through Housing dollars from 2022 to 2028.

Teen sons of Federal Way man fatally shot at bus stop were shot 2 days earlier

Three shootings in four days near same Kent location lead to one dead, five injured.

Judge's gavel
Self-proclaimed gang member sentenced for drug charges, violent carjackings

The 26-year-old man was arrested in January 2019.

Jingle Bell Brunch tradition returns in Federal Way

The holiday breakfast event included visits with Santa Claus, a hot cocoa station and more.

Tacoma woman killed in four-vehicle I-5 crash near Federal Way

Kent man arrested for investigation of vehicular homicide in early Saturday collision

Most Read