Councilman Hellickson to resign by end of year


Staff writer

Councilman Mike Hellickson hasn’t yet made the announcement formally, but the rumor is true: he’s planning to leave the Federal Way City Council by year’s end to move his growing family to Lake Tapps.

But before he goes, he said he’ll work through the budget process to ensure his constituents get their votes’ worth.

“My family’s gotta come first,” he said. “Family’s the most important thing for me.” Hellickson and his wife Tara had their second child early this year.

Hellickson’s term won’t be up until Nov. 2003, so the council probably will appoint a one-year fill-in member until the regular election for the position next year. Council members serve four-year terms.

Hellickson described himself as the “snarly pit bull” of the council. He frequently cast the no vote — sometimes alone — on issues like the city hall project, membership in the Airport Communities Coalition, nominating Jeanne Burbidge as mayor and reappointing Judge David Tracy.

He was confrontational and sometimes accusatory to city staff and consultants. When he heard something he didn’t like, he lowered his head and glowered at the messenger.

But when he heard something he did like, he beamed, leaned back in his chair and grinned enough to coax deep smile lines into his cheeks. He voted yes more often than he voted no.

Hellickson said he ran for office to get 10 more police officers on the streets, which the city is on its way to accomplishing, and he said he was active in getting the public involved in the City Hall planning process.

“I feel like the City Hall issue is out in the open because of me. And Linda (Kochmar). I had to threaten to go to the King County Auditor or the Attorney General,” he said, referring to real estate discussions held during executive session.

Councilman Eric Faison refutes the council did anything unethical, and certainly not illegal, by holding discussions in executive session. Any final decision and allocation of funds would have been conducted in an open public meeting.

“No one can disclose what happens in executive session and the rest of the process speaks for itself,” he said.

Still, despite their differences, Faison and Hellickson are friends.

“Mike and I get along terrifically. We’re friends,” he said. “Philosophically, we differ a lot. It comes out moreso in what we do downtown, city hall and the role of government in encouraging development.

“He’s tended to be ... less successful in persuading the council members to follow his philosophy, but he’s consistent,” he added. “I wouldn’t designate myself as liberal or him as conservative because there are some areas of city government that are neither.”

Hellickson said he would continue serving on the council if he could. But city law says only those living in city limits can sit on the council.

“If the law didn’t force me to resign upon moving, I wouldn’t,” he said. “I performed the duty people wanted me to do. And then some.”

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and

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