Opinion

Does Federal Way lean left or right? | Bob Roegner

What are Federal Way voters looking for?

We may have learned a lot about ourselves this past election cycle. As voters within the 30th Legislative District, we became more Democratic due to redistricting, and we generally agreed with the rest of the state on most issues.

But this is a local election year, so how do we think as a city?

Statistics still suggest we are Democratic, but we also have a little bit of a conservative streak. We supported Democrats Brad Owen for lieutenant governor, Jim McIntire for treasurer, Troy Kelley for auditor, Peter Goldmark for lands commissioner, Mike Kreidler for insurance commissioner and Maria Cantwell for U.S. Senate by strong majorities.

But like the rest of the state, outside Seattle, our votes were a little closer for governor and secretary of state, although we still went for Democrats Jay Inslee at 52 percent and Kathleen Drew at more than 51 percent. Inslee won and Drew lost.

We were slightly above the 30th District percentage in voting for Republican Linda Kochmar and Democrat Roger Freeman for the state Legislature, suggesting a comfort level with names and people we had elected before. We also maintained our political balance as we replaced a Republican (Katrina Asay) with a Democrat (Freeman), and a Democrat seat vacated by Mark Miloscia was won by a Republican (Kochmar). Our Democratic incumbent State Sen. Tracey Eide will not be on the ballot until 2014.

We traditionally support our public schools, even though at times it takes a couple of votes to convince us. We ended up with 60 percent voting to rebuild Federal Way High School. But we also voted to support charter schools at over 55 percent. This suggests that while we like our schools, we also want to try and improve them. We don’t know if charter schools will do that, and the 5 percent drop-off says we still have questions, but we are willing to try.

We apparently don’t trust the Legislature any more than anyone else. We were over 67 percent in favor of retaining the two-thirds requirement of the Legislature to raise taxes.

Our conservative side showed in our vote on same-sex marriage. We were against it 51 percent to 49 percent. Given the number of Democrats that we added in the 30th District, this was somewhat of a surprise. But we weren’t all that much different than the district voters outside of Federal Way, who also voted against the measure, although by a slightly closer margin.

Our vote to legalize marijuana might suggest that Federal Way voters had a liberal side as more than 53 percent voted yes. However, when compared to our other votes, it seems more likely that rather than liberals, we have many libertarian voters. The swing of votes between same-sex marriage and marijuana might be more reflective of wanting to keep government out of our personal business, rather than a desire to try marijuana.

Last fall, with a presidential race, we had a big turnout of more than 75 percent. The turnout for local races this year will be much smaller. Will that affect who wins?

Even though a majority of our voters lean to the left of center, a majority of our elected leaders lean to the right of center. Though we are a multi-cultural community, only our school board has minority representation. The school district’s boundaries are different than the city.

Federal Way used to be a very conservative community. We are slowly changing, as we have a broader array of viewpoints with progressives, moderates, conservatives, libertarians and independents. Watch to see how candidates for office this fall adjust their campaigns.

 

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