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Tacoma City Council Candidate Has a Cocaine Conviction and Multiple Names
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Janis Clark

Summary: A city council candidate’s use of multiple names made it difficult for her past conviction by the Army for cocaine possession.

A city council candidate in Washington has some questions about her past that need answering. The Tacoma woman was removed from an elected seat over ten years ago when it was discovered that she has a felony conviction in her past. Janis Clark was on the Pierce County Charter Review Commission when it was discovered that she received a military court-martial for using cocaine.


In another case in 2007, Clark is accused of money laundering, theft, and other crimes for a total of 31 charges against her. On nine of the charges, she was found not guilty. A jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the remaining 22 charges. Prosecutors opted not to retry her.

Clark’s problems don’t end there. Following her past legal woes has proven difficult because she frequently changes her name. Since she first ran for public office over a decade ago, she has changed her name twice. During the court-martial and Pierce County case, her last name was Gall-Martin. She has also used the name Janis Gbalah to run for office as well as Janis Clark, which she was using in 2015 when she was elected for a second time to the Charter Review Commission. She ran for state Legislature in 2010 and 2012 under the name Gbalah.

During her latest run, she was endorsed by a number of organizations including The News Tribune editorial board. Once her past came to light, they rescinded their endorsement.

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This past year when a seat opened up on the city council, Janis applied but did not receive the position. She put in her application packet that the Army gave her an honorable discharge at the rank of captain. However, an Army spokesman stated she was “dismissed.”

Public affairs officer Joseph Piek for Joint Base Lewis McChord said, “Capt. Janis Gall-Martin was found guilty of one specification of wrongful use of cocaine under Article 112(a), UCMJ. On Dec. 1, 2005, she was sentenced to a dismissal from the service. Her case was then sent to the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals because an officer’s dismissal must be approved by the Secretary of the Army.” She was later dismissed permanently from service in 2010.

Clark had been a member of the Pierce County Charter Review Commission in 2005. The commission periodically examines the constitution of county government and delivers any proposed amendments to the voters. Then-Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy revoked her voter’s registration because of the military conviction which then required that she be removed from the commission. Those with felony convictions were not allowed to serve on the commission.

In 2008, she re-registered to vote as Janis Gall. Her registration went through. Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson explained that a voter ID number stays with a person even if they change their name. Janis was not flagged as a felon so there was no problem with her registration.

The Washington Secretary of State’s office stipulates that a person with a felony conviction has the right to vote once they are no longer in prison or in community custody. A felony conviction in federal or out-of-state courts results in an automatic restoration of their voting rights once they are no longer behind bars.

Do you think it was intentional by Janis to use different names in an attempt to hide her past? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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