Election alters city council dynamics | Bob Roegner

Last week, the voters were in an unusual mood.

On one hand, they decided they wanted Costco to run their liquor stores, and make back that $20 million investment, rather than the state of Washington.

On the other hand, they want better training for long-term care workers. I-1163, which was backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), had actually been passed by the voters before, but was not implemented due to budget shortfalls. Since the budget isn’t any better now, legislators will have to decide what they want to cut to make up the two-year $32 million cost to provide the training and background checks the legislation requires. The message from this? Money and good campaign ads make a difference.

The public also said no to Tim Eyman as his transit measure appeared to be failing. It was a tricky proposal and may have confused some voters.

Here in Federal Way, the voters significantly changed the political dynamics on the city council and the mayor-council relationship.

The major story was Bob Celski defeating longtime city council member Jack Dovey. Celski had good name identification, a large campaign budget and very effective signs and mailings. But Dovey’s loss was still somewhat of a surprise as the two really didn’t seem to have many differences.

As expected, Susan Honda defeated Roger Flygare, although Flygare was able to close the gap from the primary. Dini Duclos is one of the more well-known public figures in town and was expected to easily win re-election to the city council. Many wondered why she was campaigning so hard. As it turned out, that was a good strategy. Challenger Keith Tyler had almost no money, very little name identification and only one day a week to campaign — and yet drew almost 45 percent of the vote.

Honda was backed by council members Linda Kochmar and Jim Ferrell. Ferrell also backed Celski. Mayor Skip Priest supported Dovey. That may be the start of some changes in the council relationships, such as who gets to be deputy mayor come January. It may also signal a change in how the mayor and council interact. But that’s another column.

One candidate who may have made a mistake by stopping his campaign was school board candidate Danny Peterson. His opponent, Liz Drake, had withdrawn from the race to take a job in the school district, and it appeared the race was his. But the latest tally shows the race is still close, although Peterson is expected to win.

As expected, Claire Wilson defeated Gail Crabtree to claim the other contested school board position.

With Wilson’s background, and viewpoint, she will have a short learning curve and may liven up the board meetings.

Mark Thompson and Jim Fossos were re-elected to the South King Fire and Rescue board of commissioners. However, the interesting note here was that Jerry Galland kept the race against Fossos much closer than most would have expected, garnering about 44 percent of the vote.

The biggest King County race was in Bellevue as longtime council member Jane Hague survived a strong campaign from Richard Mitchell. Her switch in favor of the tab fee appears to have undercut Mitchell’s line of attack. Also, Joe McDermott defeated Diana Toledo to retain his seat on the King County Council.

In Auburn, John Hays Holman defeated incumbent Virginia Haugen, and Wayne Osborne was elected to an open seat.

In Bellevue, moderates John Chelminiak and Claudia Balducci were re-elected and likely will be joined by John Stokes. This was an expensive battle with clear slates and appeared to be a referendum on Bellevue’s future. The conservatives still hold a 4-3 majority, but numbers suggest that Bellevue voters may favor the moderates on policy questions.

How Bellevue votes tends to be a barometer of the Eastside, so the results will be watched closely as we head into the big elections next year.


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