Federal Way mayor gives longtime resident Key to the City

Mayor Jim Ferrell presents the Key to the City award to Mary Gates, former mayor, during Tuesday
Mayor Jim Ferrell presents the Key to the City award to Mary Gates, former mayor, during Tuesday's Council meeting.
— image credit: Courtesy city of Federal Way

Former mayor, city council member and community builder Mary Gates received the Key to the City from Mayor Jim Ferrell at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The award came in recognition of Gates’s depth and breadth of contributions to Federal Way over the past 40 years.

“Mary Gates is Federal Way’s indispensable utility player. She has played so many important roles in four decades that it’s challenging to find a corner of this city that she hasn’t turned her golden touch on,” Ferrell said.

Gates was a member of the citizens committee that worked for city incorporation, was elected to the first City Council and served until 2003.

During that time, she served as appointed mayor under the council/manager form of government from 1994 to 1995 and was involved in a vast array of projects, including the formation of the Federal Way Police Department, Celebration Park, Dumas Bay Center and the Community Center.

Gates is well known regionally for her expertise in transportation.

She served on the Sound Transit board for many years and was instrumental in Sound Transit’s plans to include Federal Way on the transit line and construct the downtown Transit Center.

In addition to her role as a city official, Gates has been deeply involved in community organizations vital to Federal Way.

Her first prominent role was as one of the founders of the Friends of the Hylebos, which led to preservation of the West Hylebos Wetlands, now one of the city’s best loved parks, according to city officials.

After leaving the City Council, she led the growth of the Federal Way Symphony during seven years as the organization’s executive director.

She remains active to this day. As a member of the Federal Way Performing Arts Coalition, she is working with the grant writing committee that is raising funds for the Performing Arts and Conference Center.

Ferrell introduced the Key to the City program to recognize individuals who have demonstrated lasting, significant contributions to building the community. The first recipient was King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer. Former Public Works and Parks Director Cary Roe received the second Key to the city.


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