Opinion

2013 election predictions | Bob Roegner

This is the last weekend for ringing doorbells, and the ballots are being cast. It is now time to figure out who might actually win some of these election races.

Whether you go out in public to attend meetings, go to the store or church, or if you just read the blogs, one thing is very clear: many residents of Federal Way are frustrated with how their government entities are operating.

The people have grown somewhat used to the lack of progress that partisan government yields at the national and state level. But when the institutions they trust most — local government — don’t run smoothly, their frustration is elevated.

They understand that the school district, fire department and City Hall are not all run by the same people. But taken together, a lot of good work in our local governments has been overshadowed this past year by several issues of questionable judgment that has raised voter frustration to a new level.

Whether it’s nepotism in the fire department, the superintendent’s salary, the school board’s trips to Asia and Europe, two investigations into the mayor’s behavior or the school board president’s arrest, none of it looks good on the 6 p.m. news or in the regional media — and the public is not happy.

But how deep is the anger, and will it affect the election results? I consulted my usual group of political experts and the consensus is: if the frustration is as deep as some fear, that frustration along with voter turnout could make a big difference in some races, but may not in others.

In King County government, Executive Dow Constantine will win big, furthering his positive statewide image. Dave Upthegrove will win election to the county council seat vacated by Julia Patterson. Rod Dembowski, who was appointed to replace Bob Ferguson when he was elected Attorney General, will earn election in his own right. Eastside county council member Reagan Dunn, who was thought to be in trouble, may not be, and will likely win again. Here at home, King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer is unopposed.

In the races for Port Of Seattle, incumbents Tom Albro, Stephanie Bowman, John Creighton and Courtney Gregoire will win.

In Federal Way, the city and school board races are the ones to watch to check the public mood. Jim Ferrell appears on the verge of upsetting Skip Priest for mayor. But whether it happens or not will depend on public reaction and voter turnout. How upset is the public? And the lower the turnout, the more it favors Priest, Republicans and incumbents. The higher the turnout, the more it favors Ferrell, Democrats and non-incumbents.

In the races for Federal Way City Council, appointed incumbent Diana Noble-Gulliford should hold off a spirited challenge from Martin Moore, although Moore has really made a strong move in the closing weeks, and he could pull off the upset. Appointed incumbent Kelly Maloney is still the favorite to defeat businessman Mark Koppang after her impressive primary showing. However, this race could be closer than the double-digit primary lead Maloney held. Koppang has been working hard, and in a surprise, he got The Mirror’s endorsement. In another surprise, Maloney didn’t pursue the Democratic vote, even though many of the conservatives and Republicans will vote for Koppang. She has to hope the Democrats and enough independents vote for her. Also, she may have needlessly cost herself votes with some of her website comments.

In the other contested race, Jeanne Burbidge will defeat newcomer John Fairbanks.

Over at the school district, vote tallies will be watched closely for messages from the public. Best guess at this point: Carol Gregory will beat Medgar Wells and take the seat vacated by Angela Griffin. And in an upset, longtime board member Ed Barney will lose to Geoffery McAnalloy. If so, the balance of power on the board will change and likely become more attentive to teachers and parents. A different check and balance on the administration might surface as well.

At South King Fire and Rescue (SKFR), incumbent Bill Gates will win another term as board commissioner over challenger Jerry Galland. Galland’s criticism of the district has struck a chord, but not enough to defeat Gates. But watch Galland’s vote total — there might be a message there for the fire service.

At the Lakehaven Utility District, Don Miller will win another term, but Marie-Anne Harkness has earned another chance. She all but endorsed Miller, but she did her homework and conducted herself in a manner worthy of holding elected office.

In other local races, Ed Murray will likely be the new mayor of Seattle. Nancy Backus will be the new mayor in Auburn, and Suzette Cooke and Debra Perry will remain as mayors in Kent and Milton, respectively.

In a key legislative race in the state Senate in the 26th District in Poulsbo, Jan Angel (R) seems likely to give the Republicans a cushion of another vote. But the amount of money being spent by both sides in this race has clouded the local view and turned a runaway election into a close match.

Voter mood and turnout — those are the keys. Is the public as mad as it seems to be? Or is the frustration only an inch deep? We’ll find out Tuesday. Don’t forget to vote. One vote might make a difference in some of these races.

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

 

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