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FW Chamber hosts mayoral and council candidates | ELECTION

The Federal Way Mirror publishes a print edition every Friday. - Mirror file image
The Federal Way Mirror publishes a print edition every Friday.
— image credit: Mirror file image

The Federal Way Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum for city council and mayoral candidates Oct. 2 at its monthly luncheon at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club.

Participating candidates:

• Skip Priest (incumbent) and Jim Ferrell, who are running for mayor. Priest is the city's first elected mayor, which is a position Ferrell (the city's deputy mayor) created through a ballot initiative in 2009. Priest is a former state representative. Ferrell is a King County prosecutor.

• Kelly Maloney (incumbent) and Mark Koppang, who are competing for Federal Way City Council position 2. Maloney was appointed to the council in January to fill a vacant seat. Koppang has run for council in the past. Maloney has a background in marketing, communications and volunteering, and previously helped with a branding effort to lure more businesses to the city. Koppang has a background in sales, management and volunteering, including the city's Civil Service Commission, Independent Salary Review Commission, and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

• Jeanne Burbidge (incumbent) and John Fairbanks, who are competing for Federal Way City Council position 4. Burbidge has served on the council for 16 years, and Fairbanks is a political newcomer. Burbidge has served on multiple regional committees, including transportation boards and the Puget Sound Regional Council. Fairbanks owns a small business and served in the U.S. Air Force, and is chair of the Civil Service Commission.

• Diane Noble-Gulliford (incumbent) and Martin Moore, who are competing for Federal Way City Council position 6. Noble-Gulliford was appointed to the council in January to fill a vacant position, and Moore has worked on local candidates' campaigns in the past. Noble-Gulliford has been involved in civic matters long before cityhood, has a background in real estate, and is former president of the Historical Society of Federal Way. Moore is currently the legislative assistant to State Rep. Roger Freeman, and has served on the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Mayoral candidates

Priest made a case for the city being on the right path, while Ferrell argued that the city could do better.

Both candidates displayed a passion for serving their city. Both championed the city's location in the region as an asset in doing business.

One question asked was what each candidate would do to improve Federal Way's overall economic climate.

Ferrell said he would hire a full-time economic development director, clean up downtown, focus on a downtown park/development, actively recruit businesses, and reach out to existing businesses with an ombudsman.

Priest said he would keep the city in a position so that it wouldn't have to implement a business and occupation (B&O) tax, and cited his experience as a business owner 30 years ago as an asset to understanding what it takes to retain businesses today.

One point of contention came when the candidates were asked about ensuring the arrival of Sound Transit's light rail in Federal Way. Although approved by voters, the light rail project was delayed indefinitely in Federal Way because of a tax revenue shortfall in South King County.

Priest said his vocal outrage "sent a message" that resulted in a $24 million "shovel ready" plan implemented by King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer and State Sen. Tracey Eide. However, Ferrell correctly pointed out that Federal Way was out of the loop on that deal, and noted how Priest "frayed relationships" in attempting to dismantle Sound Transit at the state level.

Another question asked whether the candidates would hire a city administrator if elected.

Priest said he didn't need a city administrator. He cited his experience managing a small business, and said he was capable of managing a city budget (nearly $40 million). Ferrell said he was open to the idea of a city administrator, and said the position of mayor could be better used to recruit businesses, capital and investment.

Another difference was shown in a question on whether the candidates would support a public vote for the Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC), a proposed $32 million project in downtown Federal Way.

Ferrell said he strongly supports a public PACC vote. Hundreds of people have told him they want a vote, he said, adding that with a public investment this massive, "Why not?"

Priest noted that the city is already on the hook for $5 million, and is working on a plan to pay for the operating cost. The project is still in the planning stages. "We're not ready to go to voters because we're not ready ourselves," he said.

Learn more about the mayoral candidates

Click here for more information about the mayoral candidates stances on public safety, along with details of their campaign endorsements.

Yes or no: Council candidates

In a "lightning round" of sorts, city council candidates answered questions by holding up a sign that said yes or no.

Notable highlights:

• When asked whether Federal Way needed additional apartment complexes, all candidates answered no.

• When asked whether Federal Way should adopt a business and occupation (B&O) tax, all candidates answered no.

• When asked whether Federal Way should allow marijuana dispensaries, all candidates answered no, except for Martin Moore.

Action items: Council candidates

Among the questions, city council candidates were asked about their top "action item" for Federal Way.

• Maloney: The city should implement her "college initiative" to bring a research and/or higher education facility to the downtown core. Such a facility will attract more businesses and create jobs.

• Koppang: Jobs are his top priority. The city should proactively recruit Seattle and Tacoma businesses and bring them to Federal Way, which has a lower tax burden. That strategy will create more opportunities for businesses.

• Burbidge: The city is missing "a downtown we can be proud of." She said the city can bring more businesses and broaden tax revenues through the proposed Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC).

• Fairbanks: The city needs to work on its infrastructure, such as roads and sewers, to bring in more businesses. The downtown should be redeveloped and rezoned to allow wider usage beyond "retail and fast food."

• Noble-Gulliford: The city needs more living wage jobs right now. She wants to organize a strategy for economic development with input from organizations such as the Federal Way Chamber to ascertain what it would take to bring more jobs to the city.

• Moore: The city lacks a long-term vision. The city should focus on the future, including support for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education. Developing downtown will create an environment that promotes job growth.

Bringing new businesses to FW: Council candidates

• Maloney: She cited her college initiative, and said the city must continue to streamline its permit process, while acknowledging there is still more work to be done.

• Koppang: He believes there will always be a need for improvement, but the key is to compete for businesses in the regional marketplace by ensuring that the city is business-friendly and proactive.

• Burbidge: Public input is the key, along with communicating and getting together to overcome any obstacles to being a successful business.

• Fairbanks: The city needs to keep up with technology and recruit tech-related businesses. Every person represents a learning experience, which can contribute to meeting the needs of businesses and bringing more to the city.

• Noble-Gulliford: She wants to make sure everyone knows that Federal Way is open for business, and cited a local developer's satisfaction in working with the city at the Celebration Center, which is bringing in new retailers and restaurants.

• Moore: He wants to identify inefficiencies in city government, improve the permit process, and regularly meet with business leaders and Chamber members to find solutions.

Learn more about the council candidates

Click here to read a report from the August primary debate, which featured four out of the six council candidates.

Meet the candidates: Mirror hosts public forums in October

The Mirror is hosting two public forums for candidates in the general election. Both forums will be held at the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club, 3583 SW 320th St., Federal Way. Forums will be moderated by Dr. T.M. Sell, a professor at Highline Community College. Audience members will be able to ask the candidates questions.

• The first forum will run 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 9. This forum includes: Mayoral candidates Skip Priest and Jim Ferrell; Kelly Maloney and Mark Koppang for city council pos. 2; Jeanne Burbidge and John Fairbanks for city council pos. 4; and Diana Noble-Gulliford and Martin Moore for city council pos. 6

• The second forum will run 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23. This forum includes:  Bill Gates and Jerry Galland for South King Fire and Rescue board pos. 1; Don Miller and Marie-Anne Harkness for Lakehaven Utility District pos. 2; Ed Barney and Geoffery McAnalloy for Federal Way School Board pos. 1; and Carol Gregory and Medgar Wells for school board pos. 4.

• General election ballots will be mailed Oct. 16. Deadline for voter registration is Oct. 28. The election is Nov. 5. To learn more, visit kingcounty.gov/elections.

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