Opinion

Q&A: Washington elections, Federal Way projects | Roegner

Many readers ask me questions either by email or when they see me.

Since other readers may have the same questions, I like to share the answers in a Q&A column from time to time. I have shortened some of the questions.

Q: You wrote a column about the Republicans trying to win the “big three” — governorship, House and Senate. Washington is a Democratic state. What are their chances?

A: Washington has more Democrats then Republicans primarily due to the Puget Sound region, specifically Seattle. Neither party has more than 50 percent of the voters. The solid Democratic vote tends to be in the mid-high 30 percent range, and the solid Republican vote is in the high 20 percent to low 30 percent range. The rest are independents or those that “lean” in one direction. Democrats have fared better historically with this category. Republican Rob McKenna has consistently led in the polls for governor because he is more well known in King County than Democrat Jay Inslee. It will be hard for the Republicans to pick up enough votes to win the House, although state rep. position 1 here in Federal Way is on their target list.  They don’t really have to win the Senate to control it, but they could, as there are several seats in play. If they can keep two or three conservative Democrats voting on their side on fiscal matters, and win a couple of seats, they can significantly influence the agenda. Combine that with a Republican governor’s veto power, and while the Republicans may not have control, they could stop much of the Democratic agenda and force compromise.

Q: You didn’t mention Mark Miloscia in your column about possible local 2013 candidates?

A: Miloscia has always wanted to be state auditor, and is running a competitive race. If he loses, he might be a possible 2013 candidate for local office. But I can’t see him running for the city council or school board. Mayor? Maybe, but if he wanted to be mayor of Federal Way, he could have run last time, when most pundits were still expecting State Auditor Brian Sonntag to run for re-election. Miloscia didn’t run then, so running next year seems unlikely. But in politics, you never know.

Q: Will anything happen with the Crystal Palace project to improve our downtown?

A: We all keep hoping, but it doesn’t appear there is any movement. The city is helping ARCADD, the project’s developer, find financing. That’s not a good sign. The city does have a backup plan, but it is hard to tell if it is serious due to fiscal concerns. With Mayor Skip Priest and three members of the city council up for re-election next year, something needs to happen soon, or the issue could have political implications for them.

Q: How is the city budget looking for the future?

A: Like most levels of government, not great. The city has had to cut back — and even turned down a grant for police officers because of the future financial commitment. The city just started the process of obtaining public input on what citizens see as the priority needs in the community for 2013-2014. The challenge of long-term financial sustainability is still there. SCORE, the jail constructed and funded by several cities including Federal Way, continues to be a major long-term financial concern. Some have questioned whether participation without Seattle was a prudent decision. One local leader even wondered if closing SCORE might be more cost effective. The costs are significant enough to affect other city decisions. What are your priorities? Make your feelings known about what is important to you.

Q: I read about things like a performing arts center, veterans memorial and a downtown park, and I think we don’t need them. Why do people keep pushing these ideas?

A: Because they see the future that Federal Way can be. Balancing future goals with current dollars is always a challenge. Many cities around us are more than 100 years old and have been working on city improvements for many years. Federal Way is still a young city, but planning what we leave for the next generation is what building a well-rounded city is all about. Each generation benefits by the vision of the last one. And we need that vision.

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