Opinion

All quiet on Federal Way's election front | Bob Roegner

The election season is heating up everywhere but here.

In Seattle, several candidates will try to unseat Mayor Mike McGinn — although the biggest name and likely front-runner, former King County Executive Ron Sims, has decided not to run.

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke will be challenged by former councilman Tim Clarke. In Auburn, there are four candidates running to succeed Mayor Pete Lewis, who is not running again. Two of those candidates are members of the city council.

In Federal Way, Mark Koppang is only a formal announcement away from running against council appointee Kelly Maloney. But after 20 local residents applied for appointment to the council in January, it has been surprisingly quiet. Koppang ran for Federal Way City Council in 2011, and though he lost in the primary, he ran a good race for a first-time candidate. His candidacy was expected.

Maloney and Diana Noble-Gulliford joined the council as appointees when Linda Kochmar and Roger Freeman were elected to the state Legislature. Jeanne Burbidge is also up this year. As a longtime incumbent and seasoned campaigner, Burbidge will be hard to beat. Noble-Gulliford has been active in many community groups and ran for the council previously, so she has campaign experience.

Since Maloney is the least well known of the three incumbents, and hasn’t run for office before, it was expected that she might get a serious challenge. But after her appointment, she also said she wasn’t sure if she would actually run for the position. The lack of certainty may have provided encouragement to other candidates including Koppang. Maloney told The Mirror she plans to run for re-election, but has made no formal announcement. Noble-Gulliford and Burbidge have not announced their intentions, but are expected to run.

The biggest silence in Federal Way has been the mayor’s race. Everyone in town expects Mayor Skip Priest to run again, but so far, no announcement. As the incumbent, he can afford to wait a little while. Most have expected a rematch with Deputy Mayor Jim Ferrell. Ferrell has positioned himself to retain his options. He switched parties from Republican to Democrat, and last fall, he convinced the council to add police officers even though Priest’s budget didn’t include them.

Ferrell was also the only council member to vote against approving the design phase for the performing arts and conference center (PACC) recommended by Priest. Ferrell is concerned about the financing for construction and operations and the long-term fiscal impact on residents.

Since his election as mayor, Priest has been very cautious about being out front on issues, and some City Hall watchers were surprised when he embraced the leadership of the PACC. A few thought it might actually be a signal Priest felt he might run unopposed.

Will Ferrell run? Will Noble-Gulliford and Burbidge have competition? For incumbents with name familiarity and campaign experience, they can afford to wait. But if you are a first-time candidate and you want to run for mayor or the city council, you need to be making decisions now. Time is starting to run out.

 

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