Bill Baarsma was born and raised in Tacoma, graduated from Stadium and attended the University of Puget Sound where he received a BA degree in political science in 1964. After graduation, he became the first Tacoma student to receive a Scottish Rite Masonic Fellowship for graduate study at George Washington University in Washington D.C. While in the Nation’s Capital, Bill worked on the staff of Senator Henry M. Jackson and as a White House Fellow with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 1968, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Puget Sound where he taught courses in political science, business management, public administration and urban studies.
In 1991, he was elected to the Tacoma Council as an at-large council member. Since the council position was part-time, he continued his career at UPS where he established the public administration program. In 2001, Bill retired from UPS upon being elected Tacoma’s 38th mayor
During Bill’s terms as council member and mayor, Tacoma participated in the successful completion of the Museum of Glass, the Tacoma Art Museum, the restoration of Union Station, the Murray Morgan Bridge, the Seaport Museum, the Albers Mill and the environmental cleanup of the Foss Waterway. The University of Washington-Tacoma became a four-year undergraduate institution during his tenure as mayor. Tacoma also constructed the largest municipally owned telecommunications system in North America (Click network).
Bill is now retired and volunteers as the president of the Tacoma Historical Society and as a board member for several non-profits. He and his wife Carol live in Tacoma’s North End. He has a son, Bill, a daughter, Katya, and three grandchildren.