Federal Way mayor’s race heating up with candidates zeroing in on issues

In addition to the four candidates running for City Council position 4, Federal Way voters will also be deciding who will advance to the general election in the Federal Way mayor’s race between incumbent Jim Ferrell, Councilwoman Susan Honda and resident Mark Greene.

People can ask all the candidates questions at a forum hosted by the Federal Way Mirror from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 12 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club.

Jim Ferrell

As Ferrell seeks his first re-election since becoming mayor in 2014, he said his priorities continue to be public safety, revitalization of the downtown core and economic development.

His top priority, he said, is public safety.

“The first and most important thing, especially at the local level, is public safety,” Ferrell said. “With 19 years as a prosecutor and four as mayor, I think I have a unique perspective about public safety.”

He said one of the most important things he has done in his first term has been to bring together all the police chiefs and other mayors and law enforcement in the area to discuss gang violence, which led to the Valley Enforcement Gangs and Narcotics task force, which was formerly the Valley Narcotics Enforcement Task Force.

“I think that’s a really important thing,” Ferrell said. “I’ve got the ability and the leadership to bring all those folks together.”

He also said adding more police officers continues to be a priority for his administration. Ferrell said five have been added so far and more will be hired with cops grants and other funding.

Another priority is the continued revitalization of the downtown core. Ferrell said the city has made a lot of progress in the downtown area since he has become mayor.

“Our downtown was really mired in controversy and really the inability to move,” Ferrell said, adding the area was filled with vacant buildings and rubble.

The purchase of the former Target property put the city in a good position to begin creating a vibrant area, and he lists the construction of Town Square Park and the Performing Arts and Event Center as two successes that are critical in doing that.

“The minute we purchased TC-3, the former Target property, that’s when all of the cylinders fell into place,” he said, adding the city was able to use all four acres intended for Town Square Park and allowed for the PAEC to be moved over to allow for a hotel to eventually be built. “We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Construction of a hotel next to the PAEC is still in the plans, Ferrell said, as is pursuing a higher education center and marketing the former Target property.

“The face of our city and our downtown is changing,” he said.

Ferrell is also excited about the direction of economic development in the city, citing the recent openings of Home&Home and Teletron in the downtown area and the Cogent data center. He said it is his goal to continue promoting new opportunities for people who want to invest in Federal Way as well as retain the businesses already here.

Prior to becoming mayor, Ferrell served on the Federal Way City Council and twice as deputy mayor, and was also a King County senior deputy prosecutor for 16 years and served as Renton’s city prosecutor for three years.

To learn more about Ferrell and his campaign, visit www.JimFerrell.org.

Susan Honda

Honda said she has three talking points when she has been meeting with residents: public safety, economic development and Sound Transit 3, “because Sound Transit 3 is going to have such an impact on our city that I think residents need to be aware.”

Honda, who is serving her second term on the City Council, said she believes the light rail will be “awesome” when it arrives, but in the meantime, the city needs to take more control of the process.

“We need to be directing Sound Transit. Sound Transit does not need to be directing us,” Honda said.

Honda said Federal Way needs to join cities like Bellevue, Kent and Mercer Island, which have all raised issues with Sound Transit’s light rail plans and negotiated for concessions.

She also said, based on a recent report from the city’s finance director, she is concerned Federal Way will lose jobs tied with retail business during the ST3 relocation phase because businesses will not be able to find an affordable place to rent in the city.

“I’m just concerned we’re not as ready as we need to be with Sound Transit,” Honda said.

She also wants to ensure Sound Transit’s plans for its surplus property in the city once the light rail is built conforms with the city’s desires.

Honda said 80 percent of Sound Transit’s total surplus, across the entire district, must be used for affordable housing, but she does not believe downtown is a proper location for that.

“This is our city: We don’t want low-income/median-income housing downtown. We want business,” she said.

Honda said she wants to make sure the city’s zoning laws and regulations reflect what residents decide is proper use for downtown and that the city is in control of what eventually goes in the area.

“I think we need to have a clear vision of what our public wants for downtown, and then we need to tell Sound Transit what that vision is,” Honda said.

“We have a lot of space to work with,” she added. “We just need a vision. We need to know what people want, and we need to hire someone to help us with that vision. … We can do whatever we want, but we just need to know what we want.”

Honda said to encourage economic development in Federal Way, something needs to be done with the Weyerhaeuser site, and she has spoken with Tom Messmer, Industrial Realty Group’s vice president of special projects, when he attends council meetings where the property is discussed

She said she does not believe what was proposed for the property before — fish-processing warehouses — was the best use for the land and thinks high-tech companies would be more ideal.

Honda also said she believes the city needs more police officers and wants to make finding additional funding to do that a priority.

“We either have to cut things or have a new source of revenue, and I think it needs to be a combination of both,” Honda said, adding this is a conversation city officials need to be discussing now because it can’t wait.

When first announcing her candidacy for mayor, she said she would hire a city administrator, who would manage the general city operations, public relations and governmental affairs. She told the Mirror at the time, this would allow her to establish a bigger presence in the community, region and state.

Since taking office, Honda has served on a number of committees, including the Parks, Recreation, Human Service and Public Safety Committee, the Finances and Regional Committee, and the Land Use and Transportation Committee.

She is also on the Federal Way Domestic Violence Task Force, the King County Domestic Violence Task Force and the King County Board of Health and is the co-chair of the Federal Way Homeless Mothers and Children Initiative. She currently is the president of the local Soroptimist Club and is the incoming co-president of the noon Kiwanis Club.

“I think I’m certainly very qualified to be mayor — I have the experience, and I’m ready to do the job,” Honda said. “Just because I’m soft-spoken doesn’t mean I don’t get the work done.”

For more information on Honda’s campaign, go to www.Honda4FW.com.

Mark Greene

Although Federal Way resident Mark Greene has not served in any office, he said he has been studying politics and government “for almost all of my life.” This interest and experience being involved in politics in other ways — through attending meetings and paying attention to the issues and speaking to residents — will make him a good mayor, Greene said.

If elected, Greene said he would like more practical management in the city and to avoid getting involved in things like the PAEC, which he believes will only serve one segment of the community — those who can afford to attend.

“I would like to make sure all economic classes will be able to afford to go there,” he said.

Greene also said he is concerned the PAEC will be a financial drain on the city and advocates for hiring a private partner in running the facility to reduce the city’s costs.

Greene said he also would like rules for homeowners and for apartment property management companies to be the same because he does not believe they are equitable, such as mandating cameras be installed in allocated places at apartment complexes, which he said homeowners don’t have to follow.

“I want there to be the same type of rules across the board,” he said.

Greene also said, if elected, he would like to divide the city into a number of different environment sectors and hire volunteer “environmental stewards” to monitor their district and report to the city’s different departments, such as parks and recreation, any problems that are taking place, such as litter or graffiti, and help develop solutions.

Like Honda, Greene said if elected, he would hire a city administrator, who can run day-to-day operations and manage that aspect of the city.

“I’m really not concerned with titles as long as the person in the job has experience and can help me manage the city,” Greene said.

He said he also wants more to be done to help the homeless in Federal Way and thinks the Bud Clark Commons in Portland is an ideal model for a shelter in this city, especially if there was an agency or organization the city could partner with to keep the cost down. Greene said he would like the shelter to be limited to people who have lived in Federal Way for a year, at minimum.

“I’m sure all the cities are not doing enough, and I think Federal Way needs to do more,” he said.

In addition to his interest in city issues, Greene said he has formed a grassroots committee, Democracy in Election Process, which works to inform people how government operates, election management, voting and how to become involved and come up with ideas and solutions in how to improve government.

“I think I would be good at looking out for the interests of the common man, the working class and those that are kind of not always connected to government as other people, if elected,” Greene said.

Jim Ferrell

Susan Honda

Mark Greene

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