Federal Way mayor candidates raise cash for campaigns

Mayor Linda Kochmar speaks at her May 23 campaign kickoff to become Federal Way
Mayor Linda Kochmar speaks at her May 23 campaign kickoff to become Federal Way's first elected mayor. The event was held at the home of Federal Way residents Veronika and James Marino.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard, The Mirror

Two candidates with mayoral experience kicked off their campaigns last week to become Federal Way's first elected mayor.

Mayor Linda Kochmar held her campaign kick-off May 23 at the home of Federal Way residents Veronika and James Marino. Skip Priest launched his campaign May 26 at the Best Western Evergreen Inn.


Kochmar's event invited intimacy. Friends and family provided appetizers and entertainment. The gathering was reminiscent of meetings held more than 20 years ago when Federal Way first tried to incorporate, Kochmar said. More than 70 people attended the kick-off and $2,500 was raised, campaign manager Martin Moore said. Kochmar's campaign has brought in a total of $5,500, he said.

"Every day we're seeing our momentum grow," Moore said.

Resident Paul Gulliford said he supports Kochmar based on her record of service. He would like to see more access to the freeway and public safety at the transit center. Gulliford supports Kochmar as Federal Way's first elected mayor because she's involved in the community, serving on several region-wide boards and committees. She has a passion for her community and doesn't seem to approach the position as a stepping stone to bigger political standings, Gulliford said.

"It's not about what she could do," he said. "It's what she wouldn't do."

Bob Hitchcock, Northeast Tacoma resident and Federal Way volunteer, and King County Assessor Lloyd Hara spoke at the event. Kochmar has management skills and a knack for listening to her constituents, Hara said. She’s been an honest community leader and has taken pride in Federal Way since her election to the city council 12 years ago, Hitchcock said.

"We can count on Linda to continue leading with high standards," he said.

Federal Way needs to be a clean, safe city that is recognized for all it has to offer, Kochmar said.

"We can't just be a bump in the road between Seattle and Tacoma," she said.

To learn more, visit


Priest's campaign kick-off had a formal feel. It was held at the Best Western hotel. More than 180 people attended and roughly $7,000 was raised.

Speaking on behalf of Priest were two Advancing Leadership youths. Lucas Agnew and Andrea Ortega both know Priest through the Federal Way leadership-building program. Priest invests in the city's youths; he knows they are valuable contributors to Federal Way's well-being, Ortega said.

"You won't find a leader who is too busy for his constituency," Agnew said of Priest.

Priest's priorities are in promoting a quality education system, public safety and a healthy business environment. He touted his management skills and involvement in one of the city's first city councils, which helped improve Federal Way through measures such as storm water drainage. Priest served on the Federal Way City Council from 1991 to 1997. He acted as mayor for two years during that time. He was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2002, and recently vacated the position to run for mayor. Creigh Agnew, speaking on behalf of Priest, said the city needs someone who is ethical, a problem-solver and an experienced manager.

"Skip role models the behaviors we need in a community," she said.

Resident Kim Wolff said she has not decided who she will vote for yet, but Priest is at the top of her list. He's known in the community and is involved in Federal Way, she said. Wolff believes Priest will make sure residents' needs are met and their voices are heard, she said. Her vote will go to someone who is fiscally responsible.

To learn more, visit

More candidates: Ferrell and Park

City council members Jim Ferrell and Mike Park have also declared their candidacies for the position. Ferrell has served on the city council since 2003. He helped pass the initiative that will allow voters to elect their own mayor, and was the first to declare his intention to run for the position. Ferrell held a campaign kick-off in April. To date, he has raised $26,632, according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. To learn more about Ferrell's campaign, visit

Park has served on the city council since 1995. He has not held a public kick-off event, but held private fundraisers in March. To date, his total raised is $77,657, according to the PDC. To learn more about Park's campaign, visit

The filing deadline for the elected mayor position is June 7-11. A primary election will be held Aug. 17. The general election is Nov. 2.

Learn more

In 2009, a group known as Accountability Comes to Town (ACT) led a citizen's initiative to allow Federal Way residents to elect their mayor. ACT's leader, Roy Parke, tried to get the measure placed on a ballot in 2008 as well. Currently, the city operates under a city manager/city council form of government. A mayor is appointed from within the city council ranks by council members. The city manager acts as CEO of the city. The city manager position will be replaced by the elected mayor.

Click here for more information on the elected mayor initiative.

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