Who the Federal Way newsmakers of 2014 will be | Inside Politics

Bob Roegner - Contributed
Bob Roegner
— image credit: Contributed

Who will be the newsmakers of 2014? Some are obvious, some may surprise you.

You would think that with the city and school elections behind us, things would settle down a little. Maybe not.

The school board’s last meeting of the year should have had a nice party and easy meeting to say goodbye to two members and welcome two new members before the Christmas break. No such luck.

The logical game plan, according to sources, was to retain Claire Wilson as board chair and elect Danny Peterson as vice chair. Wilson had been selected just a few months ago to replace Tony Moore when his legal difficulties surfaced and he opted for a lower profile role.

Aside from Moore, Wilson and Peterson are the next most senior board members. However, in a move that is likely to have long-term repercussions in board relations, some of the board members wanted one of the newcomers, Carol Gregory or Geoffery McAnalloy, to hold a leadership position.

Gregory wasn’t at the meeting and the remaining board members voted to install Peterson as chair and McAnalloy as vice chair. The motion passed 3-0, with Wilson abstaining.

Wilson may not have even seen the coup coming. Some school board watchers had expected the three democrats - Gregory, McAnalloy and Wilson - to form a voting block. That’s unlikely to happen now.

Newsmakers? It would usually be the board chair. In this case, watch the two newcomers Gregory and McAnalloy. They are likely to increase pressure on more parent, teacher and student involvement.

Another newsmaker will be Superintendent Rob Neu. Have his moves done enough to settle down the community to pass his levy in February? And will Moore be able to put his legal troubles aside?

Over at City Hall, new Mayor Jim Ferrell should be the newsmaker of the year. However, he may have to share the honor.

Deputy Mayor Jeanne Burbidge, Council members Dini Duclos, Bob Celski and on some issues new Councilmember Martin Moore will form a voting block, with Council members Susan Honda and Kelly Maloney was on the other side. That block elected Burbidge deputy mayor in a 4-2 vote over Honda.

This is an interesting vote when set against a dialogue backdrop of “cooperation,” “consensus” and “conciliation.” Burbidge will lead the council, but the newsmaker of the year could be whoever replaces Ferrell on the City Council.

If the Burbidge group picks up a fifth vote, any issue they favor becomes veto proof. Since Moore is a supporter of the proposed Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC), think PACC when considering the impact of Ferrell’s replacement.

Ferrell’s recent interview with The Mirror contained comments likely intended to establish a positive relationship with the Council. But he and the council have many differences and the PACC is a big one.

Politically speaking, Ferrell has to maintain his strong opposition to the PACC or risk alienating many voters who supported him.

The Burbidge group seems to like former Council candidate Mark Koppang, who lost to Maloney. But he is a Republican. Moore, a Democrat, may risk bad relations with the party if he votes for Koppang.

Most issues are not highly political, but some are and relationships count. And you need four votes to pass anything.

This intrigue leads back to the importance of Ferrell getting someone on the Council who will likely vote with him or at least be independent from both groups.

That could make the next Council member the biggest newsmaker of the year. They could be the swing vote on anything, be the veto-proof vote, or if the Burbidge group gets a fifth vote, have no real influence at all.

The only slightly more predictable politics for this year are at the state level, as all three local legislative seats are up for election. Freshman house members Reps. Linda Kochmar (R) and Roger Freeman (D) seem likely to run.

The questions are more about whether or not long-time Sen. Tracey Eide will run. She says yes.  If Eide runs she will be very difficult to beat. The time to beat an incumbent is in their first reelection bid.

Kochmar is out making her rounds to line up support as she knows she could be a target with the close race she had last time. Freeman has not been as visible, but he had a more comfortable win last time.

So far, no one has announced against any of the three. Eide is the most likely newsmaker as she has seniority and power, even though she is in the minority in the Senate. However, she still maintains her role as co-chair of the powerful Transportation Committee.

To further the intrigue, what happens if former mayor Skip Priest decides he wants to return to the state Legislature?

Will South King Fire & Rescue stay out of the news? Or will Jerry Galland keep them there? There continues to be speculation about the future of Fire Chief Al Church.

Also, new Mirror Editor Carrie Rodriguez has an investigative history that may make her a newsmaker.

Joanne Piquette, and her zeal to build a PACC, will certainly place her in the role of newsmaker.

All of these people will be major players in our community. But there is also someone else out there who could be the biggest newsmaker of the year. Who will it be?

Contact Federal Way resident and former Auburn mayor Bob Roegner at bjroegner@comcast.net.


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