Federal Way mayor-elect Priest prepares for office

State Rep. Skip Priest
State Rep. Skip Priest's supporters applaud the first results for the Federal Way mayor race Nov. 2 at The Best Western-Evergreen Inn and Suites. Early results show Priest leading Jim Ferrell, 52 percent to 47 percent.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

As Federal Way’s first elected mayor, Skip Priest will take on his new responsibilities immediately after the election is certified Nov. 23.

After winning the primary election with 34 percent of the vote, Priest topped Federal Way City Councilman Jim Ferrell for the job in this month’s general election with about 52 percent of the vote. Ferrell, who led a 2009 effort to change Federal Way’s form of government to include a strong mayor, conceded the race this week in a letter to The Mirror.

“This election was a major milestone for this community,” Ferrell wrote in the Nov. 10 letter. “I pledge to help our mayor in any way that I can to make your visions a reality, and to ensure his success.”

Priest anticipates a full plate of issues upon taking office this month. Developing a long-term sustainable city budget is his top priority. Other top priorities are aggressive job creation in South King County and addressing public safety, he said.

“Clearly, the budget is an issue,” he said. “I would expect to take the next couple of months... then come back to the council with changes.”

Priest said the upcoming three-year term will be critical in shaping the mayor’s role as Federal Way transitions to a new form of government. The mayor, rather than city manager, will have executive authority because there will no longer be a city manager. An elected mayor selects and fires the city personnel. The power to veto a majority vote by the city council is authorized by state law for an elected mayor. An elected mayor can propose as well as implement policies.

“I know there are still, in a lot of people’s minds, different views on the responsibility of the mayor’s role,” Priest said. “It clearly has to be a partnership.”

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