Council candidates offer views

"Candidates for Phil Watkins' Federal Way City Council seat say minimizing traffic congestion, increasing public safety and controlling growth likely will top the council's list of priorities this year.Eleven people applied for the seat Watkins resigned from in mid-December to spend more time with his family and working in Olympia as a lobbyist . Watkins, 51, had served as chairman of the council's Land Use and Transportation Committee since 1996.On Tuesday, the six remaining members of the council interviewed 10 of the candidates for about 20 minutes each, beginning at 3 p.m. Applicant Barry Turnball was in Hawaii and unable to make the interviews, which removes him from the running. Council members were expected to select a new council member that evening. The results came in after the Mirror's press deadline for today's issue.The applicants were: Peg Altman, a former city employee; Jim Borden; Hope Elder, a former deputy mayor and City Council member; Eric Faison, Planning Commission member; Art Hagberg; Joe Henry, a former Federal Way Public Schools board member; Ronald Hodge; Eric Olsen, Human Services Commission chairman; Skip Priest, a former mayor and City Council member; Don Putman, a Human Services Commission member; and Turnball.The new council member will be sworn in on Jan. 16.The council is looking for someone skilled at decision-making, willing to work closely with others to come to consensus and experienced with working as part of a group, said Mayor Michael Park. The latter could be membership in a volunteer organization or a city commission. Obviously Hope Elder and Skip Priest have previous experience (on the council), Park said. Certainly it will help but it's not necessary.More important is attitude, he said.I'm looking for someone who's willing to participate as a team player, Park said. There are seven of us. Even though we don't necessarily agree, you've got to be a team player.Before the interviews, the candidates tried to distinguish themselves from the competition. Faison, Hodge and Turnball weren't available for comment. Here's a thumbnail sketch from the others: * Altman, 51, formerly worked as the city's community involvement coordinator and has been involved with various community groups so she said she offers and inside's and outsider's perspective on the city. I know what the City Council does, what it doesn't do, what they're not supposed to do, she said. * Borden, 49, called himself a good project man, who has learned how to figure out the requirements of a project and find solutions through his work as a configuration management employee at Boeing.* Elder, 63, said she hasn't lost her enthusiasm for the city in her years out of office. I'm proud of the moves this city has made, she said. I feel we're good stuff. * Hagberg, 69, called himself a quick study who could be up to speed on city issues within two weeks of joining the council if he has background material to read. The council could use someone with move ahead kind of thinking like him, he said, instead of 'stop this and stop that.' * Henry, 56, said land use and traffic congestion will remain big issues, but added he has no particular ax to grind about any issue. I just want to help where needed, he said.* Olsen, 45, returned to Federal Way five years ago after living elsewhere for a number of years. As a result, he looks at issues differently, he said. Not, 'That's how did things in the past.' I will look at alternatives. * Priest, 50, formerly served as chairman of the council's Land Use and Transportation Committee. Everyone seems to quite rightfully agree losing Phil in the land use area is a big deal, he said. I would hope I would be able to replace some of that.* Putman, 45, lost a bid for council last year to Dean McColgan. I'm hoping if there are areas of conflict that I can be somebody who gets in there and build consensus. "

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