Opinion

Expect a juicy year in politics | Bob Roegner

Remember 2012. It will be one of the most exciting political years in history.

There will be plenty of news and newsmakers. This week we look at local politics. Next week, state and national. Put both columns on your refrigerator next to your children’s school art and keep track as the year unfolds.

The biggest local newsmakers are likely to be Mayor Skip Priest and School Superintendent Rob Neu. But others to watch are School Board President Tony Moore and Federal Way City Council members Jim Ferrell and Linda Kochmar.

Many voters have high expectations for the city’s first directly elected mayor and will watch closely to see what Priest does this year.

The jury is still out on how successful the city strategy in confronting Sound Transit will be,  along with the future of the downtown Crystal Palace development. Other than the dustup with Branches Garden Center, medical marijuana and the police union, Priest had a pretty quiet year and a good opportunity to learn. He had some successes with budget issues. Crime is down, and he got along well with the city council. Overall, not a bad first year.

But now what? Will he keep the same management team in place? Their two-year contracts have expired. Or will he make changes as he looks to build his own team, bring in new ideas and lead the city in a new direction? Or will he stay with the same team? We know the budget is tight, but that suggests the need for creativity. What is his vision for our future?

This is a big year for the mayor with re-election looming in 2013.

What will he propose for the downtown? The neighborhoods? Public safety? How will he address our transportation needs? Jobs? Will his agenda be one of action? We may find out more at his State of the City address.

And what will be the impact of the two new council members, Susan Honda and Bob Celski? What are their goals and how will they go about accomplishing them? Who will lead the council, and in what direction?

Jim Ferrell is replacing Dini Duclos as deputy mayor, which is the council leader. Many believe Ferrell still has aspirations for higher office. If so, which office, and how will he work with the mayor on policy issues? How will Kochmar’s run for the Legislature impact the city council?

After a period of calm, the school district has become controversial with new ideas, new styles and a different direction. How will Superintendent Rob Neu and the Federal Way School Board manage the various points of view being expressed by parents, teachers and students on these policy changes?

Like the city council, there will be two new school board members as Claire Wilson and Danny Peterson come aboard. What will be their impact and how will they blend their ideas with the other board members?

Tony Moore was re-elected board president. Last year, the board’s vote was split, with Moore winning 3-2. Some felt that Moore had been distracted from the job during his 2010 run for the State Senate. Will he run for the House seat Mark Miloscia is vacating, as is widely thought?

How will this affect policy discussions? What happens if fellow board member Ed Barney also runs for the Legislature, as some think might happen?

The school district is planning to ask the public to support a couple of major issues at the ballot box in February. The Legislature is also considering a sales tax increase for the ballot in April, for among other things, education.

Education has been important to Federal Way voters. Will the Legislature’s anticipated actions affect the local vote? Will the controversy around Standards Based Education be a distraction? How will voters separate all the different issues?

The Washington School Board Directors Association selected next door neighbor Auburn as school board of the year. Will that provide additional incentive for Federal Way to achieve great things?

The voters returned two incumbent commissioners to the South King Fire and Rescue board. Both made comments during the campaign that suggests they may want to take another run at a tax or fee increase. It was defeated last time. How will the public react to a tax proposal if they have just seen two others?

Around the region, many will watch to see how long newly elected Kirkland City Council member Toby Nixon can refrain from trying to return to the Legislature.

Will Bellevue continue as the hotbed of regional debate with its 4-3 council split in favor of the conservatives?

Will Medina settle down after a year-long dispute over the police chief?

In Auburn, there are three new city council members — how will they impact city policy? Many believe Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis won’t run for a fourth term in 2013. Will the jockeying for mayor start in 2012?

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke is also up for re-election in 2013. Will others start making moves in 2012?

And how will Cy Sun, the new mayor of Pacific, handle his duties? He won in a huge upset as a write-in over the incumbent mayor and the council president.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, ever the optimist, has already held a re-election fundraiser. But a lot of possible challengers are testing the water.

Will King County Executive Dow Constantine resist the temptation to enter the governor’s race? Former Executive Ron Sims is back in town — what will he do?

Sounds like fun doesn’t it? Next week: state and national.

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