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Faison will bring open mind to City Council
"Growing up, Eric Faison was equal parts clown and scholar.Faison earned mostly As and a few Bs in junior high and high school. But his propensity for joking about teachers, classes and life in general gained him a reputation as a comedian. Some fellow students struggled to reconcile the brainy and goofy aspects of his personality. Faison remembers a student asking why he was there when he attended an Honor Society meeting in the sixth grade. He recalls a girl bragging she was 16th in their high school class of 365, oblivious to the fact Faison was No. 12.Kids' inability to recognize that Faison could be both smart and funny has helped him remember to avoid assessing people or issues based on surface information. Not quite meeting their expectations, I thought it was funny, he said. Every person has talents you can't identity just looking at them.The 30-year-old Federal Way resident plans to bring that same openmindness to serving on the City Council. Faison, a corporate and securities lawyer with Stoel Rives in Seattle, was sworn in Tuesday night.He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance from University of Washington in 1991 and a law degree from Iowa Law School in Des Moines in 1994. Faison, who developed some of his adaptability from being a military brat, will use that trait to recognize the varied talents of his fellow council members and to weigh the pros and cons of each issue. For the analytical Faison, logic rules over emotion.If someone makes a good argument, I'm very open to that, he said.Council members last week picked him to replace Phil Watkins, who resigned in December to spend more time with his family and have more time for his work as a lobbyist. Among other things, council members said they valued Faison's land use experience. He has served on the city's Planning Commission since 1998. Watkins had served as chairman of the council's Land Use and Transportation Committee since 1998. Faison said he hopes to serve on that committee. Council assignments were handed out Tuesday night.Faison will serve the remaining year of Watkins' second term; if he wants to continue to serve on the council he must run for election in November.He's a good complement to the current council as it is now, said Deputy Mayor Linda Kochmar. We're striving to be independent thinkers who arrive at an agreed-upon solution.A self-described happy-go-lucky person, Faison said he approaches problems analytically while other council members are more swayed by citizen response. While other council members consider parks, public safety or the arts their big issues, Faison plans to focus on transportation and economic development.As a corporate attorney, Faison also possesses a lot of interest in luring more business to Federal Way, including office and residential development to the future downtown. Through his job, he helps new businesses establish themselves and ensures established businesses make money from the securities market. I have a good sense of what it takes to own and operate a business in Federal Way, he said. While on the Planning Commission, Faison learned the limited role of citizen commissions, which serve as advisers to the council. He got a Washington State Department of Transportation representative to visit the commission to discuss the possibility of installing an on-ramp at 312th Street.His ultimate response was I would need to see some commitment from the city to this, he said. It really struck me you have a certain role but you're limited.Now that Faison's role is less restricted, he hopes to encourage other council members to bump up plans for another on-ramp. Faison said he'd be hard-pressed to find another city in the state of similar size with just two main entrances and exits - South 320th and South 348th streets.Look at Fife, he said. How can they have two and we have two? I think a lot of residents here would like additional access. "