Mayor Ferrell: Visioning the path to success

I often draw on the lessons that I learned from Don James in my position as mayor.

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell.

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell.

Now in the midst of the third week of the college football season, I found myself thinking about this same time in the season 43 years ago, when I was 9 years old.

It was my first visit to Husky Stadium, September 27, 1975, and I recall wondering at the time why everyone was screaming so loud and standing up throughout the entire game.

The Don James-led Huskies had started out the season 0-2 in the coach’s first year at Montlake and needed a win against Navy.

That game turned out to be my first encounter with the James era at UW, and I had no idea at the time that 10 years later I would share the field with the legendary coach as a walk-on member of the Husky football team.

During my time playing for James, I learned many life lessons from him, some detailed in the book “The Thursday Speeches: Lessons in Life, Leadership, and Football from Coach Don James,” by former UW linebacker Peter Tormey, whose younger brother, Chris, later served as my position coach.

Those Thursday speeches – often featuring anecdotes from history or literary allegories woven into the X’s and O’s of a game plan – primarily focused on a belief and vision of how we were going to win the game, and eventually a Rose Bowl and national championship. James had an unwavering belief that both would happen.

The effectiveness of plotting the path and instilling the belief about two days before the game gave players a chance to digest the information and let it manifest itself so that it could be more impactful come kickoff.

James was a master of removing the negative circumstances, thoughts and/or people from the situation and honing in on the vision and how we were going to get the desired result. He paid meticulous attention to detail and planning. He also understood that success did not come overnight and that in order to build something special, that vision must be maintained consistently.

I often draw on the lessons that I learned from James in my position as mayor of Federal Way.

In that same manner, I remain steadfast in my vision to make Federal Way a great place. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do with our downtown to this point. We’re breathing new life into it, transforming it for future generations, and laying the groundwork for what will be an economic engine and a destination location when the Sound Transit light rail project is completed.

With the unveiling of my proposed 2019-20 biennium budget last week, my vision is turning toward getting our financial house in order for this city to continue to deliver services at a high level to its residents well into the future.

My proposed budget acknowledges that there is tax fatigue in our region – we hear it loud and clear. That is exactly why this budget features no tax increases. And we will not lay any City employees off or dip into the general reserve fund. In fact, the budget has us paying back the reserve fund to the tune of about $100,000 per year.

This is about taking care of our employees through a 2-percent cost of living increase. I’ve also included funds to conduct a comprehensive salary survey and workload study in 2020 which will give us the data we need to improve compensation and workloads where it’s needed the most, across City Hall.

We’re creating something special in Federal Way – just as James did with the Huskies – and it’s something that requires an unwavering vision of greatness. I come to City Hall every day with that vision firmly entrenched in my mind.

Sure, we can’t play in a Rose Bowl or a national championship game, but we can strive every day to deliver on our goal of making public safety in our community the top priority while keeping Federal Way a great place to live, work and play.

Crime is down 17 percent over the first six months of 2018. And that comes on the heels of a 10-percent drop in 2017.

During my time as mayor, overall crime is down 4 out of the last 5 years.

As for that game against Navy 43 years ago, the Huskies eked out a 14-13 win in front of 53,000 screaming fans – James’ first of many wins in purple and gold. I realized just this week that I got to experience a unique piece of UW history.

I’m equally thrilled and honored to be experiencing a great piece of our own history here in Federal Way.

Jim Ferrell, Mayor of Federal Way

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