Jobs at City Hall offer test for Federal Way's first elected mayor

Federal Way's new elected mayor will face his first test of leadership shortly after taking office later this year when he selects applicants to replace two departing city directors.

Community development director Greg Fewins and human resources director Mary McDougal are both leaving their positions with the City of Federal Way after nearly two decades each of service. The elected mayor, to be selected in the Nov. 2 general election, will choose the replacements for Fewins and McDougal. The selections will influence the direction the city takes under the elected mayor, which will either be State Rep. Skip Priest or City Councilman Jim Ferrell.

Parting ways

After 20 years of service, Fewins will retire at the end of this year. His retirement plan was a 30-year one, but he has worked 32 years and the timing seemed right to call it quits, he said. He may choose to pursue work in another field.

Fewins said he has several pleasant memories from his time spent in Federal Way, but will most remember the transformation of the city from then to now.

"It's the 20-year process of taking the city from the point of incorporation and really moving it ahead 20 years in time and seeing the difference in how the community looks today," Fewins said.

McDougal is leaving the city after 19 years to take a job as a human resources manager with the City of Tacoma. Her last day is Oct. 28. Her new position is closer to her home in Tacoma and seemed like a good fit, she said. Of all her years of service in Federal Way, McDougal will most miss her colleagues, she said.

"The people I work with here at the City of Federal Way are very dedicated people who work really hard and care about the city," McDougal said.

Fewins' and McDougal's hard work and professionalism have not gone without notice.

"Both Greg and Mary have been outstanding public servants to the City of Federal Way," said Jim Ferrell, city council member and mayoral candidate. "I'm grateful for their service."

New beginnings

The city's first elected mayor, either Ferrell or State Rep. Skip Priest, will decide who will replace Fewins and McDougal.

It's important to select candidates with a level of experience and professionalism, Ferrell said. The opportunity to choose a director to ensure the internal workings of the city go smoothly, and to choose a director to ensure the city is adequately in touch with its constituents, is exciting, Ferrell said.

"It's a perfect opportunity for us to really start in a new direction and give the mayor the opportunity to put a team together that the city would be proud of," he said.

If elected mayor, Ferrell will specifically hire individuals that have a history of working for the public, he said. Ferrell said he will create a mindset in City Hall that relationships and communication with the public come first and foremost.

"We work for them," he said.

Priest agreed that it's essential to choose candidates with expertise to fill both positions. Whoever fills the human resources position must be an extremely high quality person with broad experience in the field, he said. The individual must approach rising medical and health care costs with innovation, helping guarantee city employees maintain quality health care at a cost-effective rate to the City of Federal Way, Priest said.

In the community development department, the ideal director will be knowledgeable about economic development, an area that goes hand-in-hand with permitting, Priest said. The applicant will be creative when it comes to zoning, especially in the downtown core, he said.

Another key characteristic will be the ability to work collaboratively with Lakehaven Utility District and South King Fire and Rescue to guarantee a swift permitting process, Priest said. Federal Way needs to encourage the start-up and expansion of businesses of all sizes by being customer-friendly and proactive in guiding home and business owners in meeting all the city's permitting requirements, Priest said.

"It's very important our new head of our planning department feels a sense of urgency about trying to get those permits out," he said.

Fielding applicants

A local and statewide recruiting process to fill Fewins' and McDougal's positions begins the first week of November, city spokeswoman Linda Farmer said. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 3. Finalists for both positions are expected to be identified by the human resources department and the elected mayor by the end of December. Final interviews are tentatively scheduled for Jan. 20-21.

The new directors will be to work by early or mid-February. The Human Service director oversees employee recruitment, training, compensation, benefits, labor relations and safety and wellness, among other things. The Community Development director oversees long-range planning, zoning, code revisions, administration and enforcement of land use and codes for construction, among other things. Salaries are being advertised at $110,000 to $130,000 annually.

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