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Assefa-Dawson appointed to Federal Way City Council in 4-2 vote

New Federal Way City Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson takes the oath of office on Saturday. Mayor Jim Ferrell vacated the seat when he became mayor in January.  - Chris Carrel, City of Federal Way
New Federal Way City Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson takes the oath of office on Saturday. Mayor Jim Ferrell vacated the seat when he became mayor in January.
— image credit: Chris Carrel, City of Federal Way

It took two rounds of nominations and votes, but the Federal Way City Council eventually voted 4-2 in favor of candidate Lydia Assefa-Dawson to fill the seat vacated by current Mayor Jim Ferrell during a special meeting on March 1. Assefa-Dawson was nominated by council member Martin Moore, with council members Kelly Maloney and Susan Honda the dissenting votes.

"I just wanted to say thank you very much for nominating me and electing me," Assefa-Dawson said after taking her seat behind the dais. "You know I'm going to need your help and I hope that you're willing to work with me. And I will not let you down, and plan on (bringing) hard work as part of this team."

Assefa-Dawson was part of three nominees in the second vote, with council members Bob Celski and Kelly Maloney nominating Don Smith and Gregory Baruso, respectively. The two votes for Smith and Baruso ended in 3-3 ties, following a pattern from the first round of nominations earlier in the afternoon.

In the first round of nominations, Baruso and Smith were nominated by Maloney and Ceslki, while Moore nominated Anthony Murietta. Murietta's vote was a 5-1 no vote, with Moore the only yes. The other two votes split 3-3, causing the council to reconvene for executive session for the second time during the afternoon.

After a long and arduous process that lasted the majority of the day, Ferrell and other council members thanked the applicants for their time and energy.

"I want to personally thank all of the applicants, and the family members too who are here, for giving up your Saturday," said Deputy Mayor Jeanne Burbidge. "And for taking such a serious interest in the future of this city, to apply for these positions. Filling a council vacancy is a difficult task with making choices among so many qualified candidates, and we certainly had those today."

Burbidge added the council's goal was to conduct the process in as transparent as possible way, and that was also equitable to all those who applied, and that it was meant to make sure the best qualified candidate was appointed to serve the city.

"I believe we've achieved that today," she concluded.

The deputy mayor also encouraged the applicants not selected to continue to find ways to serve the city, a thought that council member Dini Duclos echoed.

"Every one of you that applied bring a host of talents to this city, and we don't want to lose you, so I'm going to be talking with the mayor and deputy mayor about how we can enlist your service in one or more committees," she said.

Assefa-Dawson was among 16 candidates the council had to choose from. She brings years of experience in the public sector, as she currently works for the King County Housing Authority as a Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinator. Assefa-Dawson was a member of city staff, according to her resume, when she held the position of Human Services Manager from 2002-03.

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