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Q&A: Critical observations in local government | Roegner
Thanks to many of you who ask questions. Here are my answers.
Q: On several occasions you have been critical of the Federal Way government’s economic development efforts. Why?
A: It doesn’t appear that there is an overall strategy of who we are, what we want in our community and how we want to market ourselves. Downtown Federal Way looks pretty much the same as it did 10 years ago with no clear plan for improvement. Several opportunities to create a downtown fabric were missed by not putting public buildings like City Hall, the police department, library and the Community Center downtown. The performing arts and conference center (PACC) is only a piece of the puzzle — and is less than a sure thing.
Q: You wrote a column critical of the Federal Way City Council for appointing more conservatives. Then you wrote a column urging Republicans, who are conservatives, to change their approach to improve their power. That sounds inconsistent.
A: It’s actually very consistent. We benefit from well rounded cooperative debate. We need different points of view and two strong parties. The city council members added voices similar to their own, but might have improved the civic discourse by adding voices that were different. Nationally, the Republicans risk making this a one-party country if they don’t find a way to adapt their policies to a changing populace. We don’t need one dominant point of view. Compromise leads to better government.
Q: What do you think of the City of Pacific situation with Mayor Cy Sun, and has it calmed down?
A: There is plenty of blame to go around for the current mess. The mayor won as a write-in candidate, barely defeating the incumbent mayor and a council member. That put two-thirds of the power structure against him. He compounded a difficult situation by listening to bad advice and making several questionable management decisions. He also got some unfair press, as many of the things he did were well within his legal authority, and some people just didn’t like his decisions. He was arrested for going into a locked city office. As mayor, he can go into any city office or building he wants to. He’s legally in charge of them. The council has not made it easy for him. They criticize him for firing people and having vacant positions, then won’t confirm replacements. The council seems to have its own attorney, which is a recipe for disaster. The mayor has not gotten the cooperation he needed to have a chance to succeed, but he has also made it difficult on himself. No, it hasn’t calmed down, even though it isn’t on the front page as often. There is still a group trying to recall the Pacific mayor, and if it gets to the ballot, it will probably succeed.
Q: You have written columns urging a community discussion by the Federal Way mayor and council on gun control. Can the city do anything more restrictive than state law?
A: The city can’t be inconsistent with state law. But it can help change state law. I was suggesting that the mayor and council try and give the community more local latitude in what is allowed in our city before Newtown becomes Federal Way. It appears that the city leaders either aren’t interested or are afraid of the issue. Disappointing.
Q: Are we going to have some Federal Way election races this fall?
A: We have one with Mark Koppang challenging Kelly Maloney for city council. It seems likely that Diana Noble-Gulliford, as a council appointee, will draw an opponent, but I’m not sure that Jeanne Burbidge will. She would be the hardest to beat. The big question is whether we will have a mayor’s race. Mayor Skip Priest will certainly run for re-election. His likely opponent, Deputy Mayor Jim Ferrell, has been quiet. However, I think Ferrell will run.