Eric Faison is the newest City Council member

"The Federal Way City Council chose new blood over council experience when members appointed attorney Eric Faison to a vacant seat Tuesday night.But council members say Faison, a 30-year-old corporate and securities lawyer with the Seattle firm Stoel Rives, will offer the land use knowledge that will help the council replace some of the experience of Phil Watkins, who had served as chairman of the council's Land Use and Transportation Committee since 1996. Faison has served on the city's Planning Commission since 1998. Watkins, 51, offered his resignation in December in order to spend more time with his family and have more time for his work as a lobbyist. Faison, who will be sworn in on Jan. 16, will complete the remaining year of Watkins' term. He is the first black council member in the city's 10-year history. Deputy Mayor Linda Kochmar called Faison an extremely intelligent young man. Even before beginning the interviews, council members believed they needed someone who possessed legal and planning skills. Faison fit the bill, she said.Anyone who believes the Growth Management Act is exciting needs to be on that council, Kochmar said, laughing. He had all the qualities we wanted.Eleven people applied to serve the remaining year of Watkins' term. The council interviewed 10 of them Tuesday night; one applicant was in Hawaii at the time.The council eventually narrowed the list to Faison and Skip Priest, a former Federal Way mayor. While Kochmar, Gates and Jeanne Burbidge favored Faison, Mayor Michael Park, Mike Hellickson and McColgan favored Priest. The final vote, after a second executive session, was 5-1, with McColgan pulling for Priest. Park said he worried that Faison's work in Seattle would make it tough for him to make council and committee meetings. He also was worried Faison won't run for election in November. But Faison's land use knowledge and the chance to put somebody on the council with new ideas changed Park's mind.After the discussion of his qualifications I decided that time commitment and running is less of a priority than his qualifications and his background, Park said.He has more current experience than Skip does, Councilwoman Mary Gates said. Skip has been off the council three years. Eric has worked on the Planning Commission right now. He knows the issues ready to go before the council. When you're gone three years, you're gone three years. "

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