Opinion

Bob Roegner's 2012 political awards

We have reached the end of another year and election cycle. Even though many candidates are already running for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.

Before we say goodbye to 2012, we need to take a moment and reflect on our leaders and bestow upon them awards they have so richly earned.

The leadership of King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer and Sen. Tracey Eide earned them the “Saved our Transit Bacon” award, after they rescued us and City Hall from a political quagmire by gaining regional support to keep transit planning for Federal Way moving ahead.

Sound Transit Executive Director Joni Earl, who endured months of attacks by the mayor and city council but still visited Federal Way many times to answer residents’ questions — and also worked with von Reichbauer and Eide to keep the planning moving ahead — not only gets a “courage” award, but also an “I love Federal Way” button to pin on her suit of armor.

Councilwoman Linda Kochmar finished third in the race for mayor two years ago. She then filed for the vacant House of Representatives seat that was expected to be won by another candidate. She not only won the primary, but the general election as a Republican in a Democratic year. For that, she gets the “always keep trying” award.

The backers of the successful initiative to legalize marijuana get the “our stockholders love you” award from the makers of Cheetos, whose sales will likely triple.

New state legislator Roger Freeman, who at times has exhibited a naive streak, will now find out what Olympia-style politics look like — and will get the “what have I gotten myself into” award. Sorry, Roger. Too late for a recount.

Joining many of his colleagues in the mayor’s lament, Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest gets the “why couldn’t I be mayor in a good economy” award. Also, to Mayor Priest, who seemed to maintain faith in ARCADD’s downtown promise despite repeated missed deadlines, he gets the “can’t I catch a break” award.

And to those who have been critical of Priest’s methodical — some would say slow — style, at least we still have insurance coverage, unlike Pacific. Pacific, not Congress, earns the “let’s drive off the fiscal cliff” award.

With concern about the lack of progress in downtown ever increasing, Federal Way Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty gets the Brooklyn Dodger “wait till next year” award. He is an eight-time winner.

As expected, Federal Way City Councilman Jim Ferrell was one of the year’s big newsmakers as he was elected deputy mayor and also switched parties from Republican to Democrat. He gets the “I wonder if either party will support me for mayor” award. Do you think he has donkey and elephant decals on his car? Actually, if he really is a Democrat, he is supposed to have a pickup truck.

New councilmembers Susan Honda and Bob Celski get the “time to step up” award because soon they won’t be the newest council members anymore and will need to exert more leadership. Time to take checks and balances seriously.

Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu and Federal Way School Board President Tony Moore began the year in hot water by defending their controversial new grading standards to upset staff and parents. They closed it with over 60 percent public support to rebuild Federal Way High School, along with a major new grant. They get the basketball players “nice rebound” award.

Over the past year, new Federal Way Chamber of Commerce CEO Patti Mullen has used her regional contacts to revitalize the start-up business and medical incubators, build relationships with economic development and transportation interests in Seattle and Tacoma, and move the Chamber and the community beyond its local comfort zone by positioning us as a potential regional player. For that, she gets the “change can be good for you” award.

The “you CAN do the impossible” award goes to campaign manager Joby Shimomura, who took Jay Inslee from “Jay who” all the way to the governor’s mansion.

Despite being in the Legislature only two years, Sen. Joe Fain was recently named majority floor leader of the new coalition Senate that moved Republicans from the minority to the majority party. While some might liken the palace coup atmosphere in Olympia to ancient Rome, Fain still gets our “rising star” award. Although he may want to watch the back side of his toga.

And for longtime councilmember Jeanne Burbidge, who is one of the few Federal Way leaders that actually seems to understand regional political relationships, she gets the “because mom says so” award. Because someone needs to provide adult leadership in the face of upcoming mayoral and council elections where temptation to pander for votes could override the city’s need to become a true regional player.

And the “thanks for the memories award” goes to the following:

• Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire, who saw us through some very difficult times and made remarkable strides, until the economy tanked.

• Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed, who managed elections with integrity and honesty despite significant criticism, mostly from his own party.

• Democratic Legislator Mark Miloscia. Too bad he can’t get a mulligan on the state auditor’s race. Miloscia looks pretty good now that we have taken a closer look at the other candidates.

• Republican legislator Katrina Asay. Even though it probably cost her the election, you have to admire her for taking the high road and not attacking her opponent.

Each will be missed. They were all good public officials in a time when that was needed. My guess is that all will resurface in the public sector in the future.

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