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Federal Way residents thank Priest for his time as mayor and beyond
Overseeing his last Federal Way City Council meeting as Mayor, Skip Priest was treated to kind words from a number of citizens during the council’s Dec. 3 meeting.
All noted Priest’s selfless giving to the city throughout his time as a local leader in Federal Way and in Olympia. H. David Kaplan was the first to thank Priest for his years of service to the city, sharing a little-known story about Priest and efforts to expand the playground at Celebration Park.
“When you walk down the hall at the Community Center towards the gym, you see three banners hanging down from the balcony. Funds from selling those banners in 2001 built the expanded playground in Celebration Park,” Kaplan shared. “A nearby plaque lists the names and organizations involved, but Skip Priest’s name is not on that plaque, by his request. It should have been.”
Kaplan recalled how Priest went to Olympia with him and other Parks Commissioners to negotiate with the Kompan playground equipment company, and shared how Priest got Kompan to cover the delivery and installation costs for the new playground equipment.
“His negotiations brought us a new playground…This kind of selfless work on behalf of our community is typical of the Skip Priest that I have known and admired for more than 20 years,” Kaplan concluded.
Margaret Nelson noted Priest’s leadership as the city’s first elected “strong mayor” and the financial turbulence he’s been able to mostly avoid for Federal Way in the years since the economic downturn began in 2008.
“The Mayor is responsible for writing the city budget, and during this recession, while Mayor Priest has been in office, he has had to make difficult financial decisions. Some were in regard to staff cuts, and some staff benefits had to be negotiated. In spite of this, while nearby cities have gone into debt, he has kept us solvent,” she said.
Nelson noted that for those who know Priest, his service to the community is done because he believes it’s the right thing to do, and not out of self-interest.
“The Mayor has set a wonderful example for all the years he’s lived here, both before and during his time as mayor, as a visible community volunteer,” she said. “I can name about 20 things I’ve seen Skip at, before and during his time as mayor. This service was not connected to political reward, but done because he cared about making Federal Way better.”
Tim DeVore also shared the same kind regard for Priest, saying the outgoing Mayor is driven by a desire to serve, rather than recognition or accolades.
“In the last 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to see Skip Priest not just doing things for himself, for his status among the people of Federal Way, but truly because he loves this town,” DeVore said. “My wife and I have seen this couple (Priest and his wife Trish Bennett) at event after event, doing charitable things. Those are big shoes to fill for the incoming mayor, and I hope Mr. Ferrell, you will follow our great Mayor Priest’s example.”