The headliner this year is the race for Federal Way mayor, but the best of the undercard may be the battle between appointed incumbent Kelly Maloney and second-time candidate Mark Koppang for city council position 2. The third primary candidate in this race is Anthony Murrietta. Several attempts to contact Murrietta were unsuccessful.
Maloney was appointed to the council in January and has been active in trying to attract a four-year college satellite campus to the downtown core, which she believes will help spur economic development in the area. Students could live and shop in the area while attending school, and she notes the increase in energy and improvements in downtown Tacoma since the University of Washington campus opened.
Maloney works for Orion Industries and specializes in marketing. She would like to see a downtown comprehensive plan and believes "the city strategy needs clarity." Like most of the council, she likes the performing arts and conference center (PACC), but has reservations about the costs. She is concerned that the public needs to understand more about the project, and she would like a more current survey to check community support.
Maloney generally is opposed to any new taxes and feels the city needs a better message for economic development that highlights our low taxes. She is concerned about domestic violence in the aftermath of the Pinewood Apartment murders and would support changes that give police additional authority over guns if a protective order is in place.
This is Maloney’s first race for public office. She is endorsed by Councilmembers Susan Honda and Diana Noble-Gulliford, community leaders Jeff Stock and Mark Clirehugh, and the Federal Way Police Officers Guild. She was rated "Outstanding" by the Municipal League.
This is Mark Koppang’s second run for the city council. He ran a good race two years ago, but lost in the primary. Koppang supports the PACC, but would not support any public debt, other than short-term financing. He believes that “we have too many empty buildings in our downtown core.” He believes Federal Way can be a technological hub for South King County, and agrees with many citizens who have advocated a Kent Station type of development downtown that could also include luxury condominiums and high-rises.
Regarding the Pinewood murders, Koppang favors improving neighborhood safety, and noted he serves on the city’s Civil Service Commission, which does the recruitment for police officers. He also believes that gun shows should be included in background checks. He is concerned about the fiscal drain from SCORE, the city’s suburban jail, impacting other city services. He is opposed to new taxes.
Koppang has served as chair of the 30th District Republicans and is endorsed by Councilmember Bob Celski as well as Trisha Bennett, who is married to Mayor Skip Priest, along with school board member Danny Peterson, Lakehaven commissioner Len Englund, and community leader Lori DeVore. His Municipal League rating was “Good.”
These are two good candidates who would serve the city well. It will be a very interesting race. The city council is technically non-partisan. But to win, the candidates will have to combine groups of voters. Both candidates lean conservative and will try and attract Republican votes, although Koppang may have an advantage with that group. But the Democrats need a candidate to support. Some may support Murrietta, but could lean toward Maloney, since Koppang has held office in the Republican party. And how will independents vote?
Also, it is well known that Maloney filed a complaint against Mayor Skip Priest over his behavior. How will that play out in voters’ minds? There has been speculation that Deputy Mayor Jim Ferrell is backing Maloney, and that Priest is backing Koppang. That may be true behind the scenes, but neither show up as endorsers, although the mayor’s wife is listed for Koppang.
But will Ferrell supporters vote for Maloney? Will Priest supporters vote for Koppang? If so, which campaign organization — Ferrell’s or Priest’s — is stronger? Will voters separate the two races and vote for the candidate? Or will the race serve as an informal primary poll on the mayor’s race?
Even though Maloney is the incumbent, she is new in the job. When the race started, Koppang looked more like a front-runner because he has run before and likely has better name familiarity. But Maloney got the higher rating from the Municipal League and the endorsement of the Police Guild. It looks to be a very close race.
Study the candidates and their stances on the issues. Then make up your own mind. Key to the primary? Turnout is crucial. Can Maloney attract some Republicans away from Koppang? With only a few candidates on the ballot, will Democrats turn out? If so, will they go for Maloney? And how many votes does Murrietta get?