Opinion

Who's your top Federal Way candidate in 2013? | Roegner

The slow developing field of candidates for mayor and city council is now set. And there will be some good races in Federal Way.

We have incumbent Mayor Skip Priest being challenged to a rematch by Deputy Mayor Jim Ferrell. We have one longtime city councilmember, Jeanne Burbidge, being challenged by political newcomer John Fairbanks.

And the two new appointed councilmembers, Kelly Maloney and Diana Noble-Gulliford, will both have two opponents. Maloney is joined by Mark Koppang, who has run before, and Anthony Murrietta, who has not. This will also be Maloney’s first election. Noble-Gulliford is being challenged by Martin Moore, who has managed several races for other candidates, but has never been the candidate himself, and by Ryan Miller, who will be making his first attempt at local office.

Now that we know the field, what issues do you care about most? And what are you going to ask some of these candidates when he or she arrives on your doorstep?

What is your reaction to Priest’s record of accomplishment as mayor? Did he actually initiate programs that made a difference, or did city government move along on its own inertia? Has he stepped up as the city leader, or is the council still the stronger leader? Is the city better or worse for his efforts in the last three years? And if he is re-elected, will he do anything differently, or is his pattern established? What are his specific measurable goals for a second term?

And Jim Ferrell? How is he any different than Priest? He will have to demonstrate why he would be better than the incumbent. What are his goals for the city? He has been on the city council for 10 years and in a position to impact city policy and the city budget. What has he accomplished?

In 2011, the city had relatively low crime statistics. But in 2012, the crime statistics were much higher. And with the Pinewood Apartment murders, 2013 isn’t starting out very well. The cost of police is already high enough that sustainability is debatable. What do you expect the mayor and council to do to bring down our crime rate? Are ideas proposed by the opponents achievable? Should the incumbents and the challengers be adding police officers, or should the mayor and police chief be utilizing the current staff more efficiently? A police officer can cost $100,000 a year. Should the city’s elected officials submit gun control options to the state Legislature? Which ones could save lives and tax dollars?

The regional jail (SCORE) is so expensive that officials in other cities have questioned whether it should be mothballed and whether there are other places to house lawbreakers.

What do the candidates think?

Do you support the proposed performing arts and conference center (PACC)? If so, do you have conditions? Do you think it is the best answer? If the only way to build it or operate it was by tax support, would you still support it? How do these candidates feel? Will they be bold or cautious? Will they lead or be led, and which do you prefer?

The city has had a mixed record on economic development. Should the city be doing anything differently? Or are you happy with the current direction? Do you know what the current direction is? More importantly, do the candidates?

Three years ago, the public voted to change to a strong mayor form of government in Federal Way. Several citizens have questioned the commitment and the depth of the implementation, and feel it is pretty much what we had before. How do you feel about it? Are you getting what you expected?

Some neighborhoods have complained about crime and traffic and that there is too much focus on downtown and the central business district at their expense. Do you agree? What would you change?

Managing in government is about making choices. How do you feel about the choices the incumbents have made? Could the candidates do any better? Do the incumbents and challengers actually understand how the government works and what their roles are? Some will try and give you superficial answers to complex issues. Don’t let them — they need to earn your vote.

Do your homework. This is what democracy is all about.

 

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