Council race is full of contrasts | Roegner

The race between appointed incumbent Diana Noble-Gulliford and candidate Martin Moore should be the closest of the three city council races, and provides some interesting contrasts.

While both have a commitment to the community, they are very different people. Noble-Gulliford is female, Republican, moderate-conservative, and has played a part in almost every civic issue for several decades. The cityhood committee, Friends of the Hylebos, the Historical Society of Federal Way and the City Planning Commission are just a few of her areas of involvement. Her background also includes banking and real estate.

Supporters describe Noble-Gulliford as a “doer” who doesn’t seek the spotlight. Although she ran unsuccessfully for the council before, her appointment is the culmination of a lifelong journey of community participation. While politically active, higher office seems unlikely for her. And don’t be fooled by her quiet unassuming manner — she can be firm in pursuing goals that she feels are best for the city, and she can hold her ground even when pressured.

That background has provided Noble-Gulliford a seasoning that usually only comes after several years in office. She has been endorsed by School Board President Tony Moore, and fellow Councilmembers Susan Honda and Kelly Maloney. She will get support from much of the Republican establishments. Her Municipal League rating was “very good.”

While Noble-Gulliford has been part of the community fabric for years, Martin Moore’s visibility is more recent and, in some ways, more representative of a “newer” Federal Way.

Moore has lived here most of his life after being adopted by a Federal Way couple as a child from his native Bulgaria. He may lack Noble-Gulliford’s lengthy experience, but his time with AmeriCorps and personal background provide cultural awareness, and his knowledge of City Hall includes time on the Parks and Rec Commission.

While this is Moore’s first run for elected office, he is far from a beginner, as he has managed several local campaigns. He is an active Democrat and has the endorsement of many Democratic officeholders.

But he also ran Bob Celski’s successful campaign for the city council. Since Celski is viewed as a conservative and likely a Republican, some Democrats weren’t happy about Moore’s participation.

However, the Democrats did endorse Moore, and his assistance to Celski yielded an endorsement from Celski, which might have typically gone to fellow conservative council member Noble-Gulliford. That’s a gain for Moore in seeking crossover voters, but a big risk for Celski if Moore doesn’t win, especially when his own re-election comes up in two years. Moore also got the support of Len Englund, who is a former Republican district chairman.

Moore is described as a “hard worker” and is supported by Congressman Adam Smith, former state legislator Mark Miloscia and school board member Claire Wilson. Moore’s Municipal League rating was “good.”

As expected Moore has received donations and endorsements from many unions including the Federal Way Police Guild, but in another twist in a season full of them, Councilmember Dini Duclos’ partner, Linda Purlee, has donated to Moore. That’s another risk in council relationships if Moore doesn’t win.

On policy issues, neither candidate in this race would raise taxes to pay for the Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC), although both support it. Both place public safety as a high priority. Noble-Gulliford wants more focus on economic development, and Moore emphasizes better connection to the neighborhoods.

Moore came out of the primary with a slight lead. However, the third-place finisher Ryan Miller is a Republican who has endorsed Noble-Gulliford, and their combined vote total was higher than Moore’s.

Moore also ran the successful campaign of Democrat Roger Freeman to the state Legislature. Freeman has endorsed Moore and also hired him as his legislative assistant. Moore believes his connection to Olympia would be helpful if he is elected.

In contrast, 30th District State Rep. Linda Kochmar (R) is supporting Noble-Gulliford. Even though the vote is still weeks away, some political observers think Kochmar might also be playing defense. If Moore wins, he would be well positioned to run against her in the future.

But first things first. City positions are non-partisan, but party politics will play a role in who wins. Republicans have more issues, candidates and reasons to vote. Even with an expected low turnout, the Republican base will mail their ballots. The bigger question is, will Democrats do the same? And how much will the Federal Way mayoral race, the school district’s controversies and the PACC affect turnout?

A big turnout helps Democrats, but a small turnout helps Republicans. The upcoming debates could change it, but for now, a slight edge goes to Noble-Gulliford.


Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn: bjroegner@comcast.net.

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