Change, controversy and more rumors abound in Federal Way | Inside Politics

Bob Roegner - Contributed
Bob Roegner
— image credit: Contributed

What a month of change and controversy. The biggest change was Democratic state Sen. Tracey Eide announcing after 18 years in office she was not going to run for re-election.

Insiders speculated she might not run for some time and Republicans were openly recruiting candidates by telling them they didn’t believe she would run. Eide’s skills and clout will be missed.

Former Democrat state Rep. Mark Miloscia announced he will run as a Republican for Eide’s position. But the big question is, who will run on the Democratic side? Democratic state Rep. Roger Freeman would be the first choice of the party but he announced he will run for re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives.

Freeman acknowledged that he viewed Miloscia as a mentor, which would have made running against him difficult. With control of the state Senate up for grabs an Eide-Miloscia race would have been the top race in the state. Now, Miloscia is the front runner and the Democrats need a credible candidate.

Newly-elected Councilmember Martin Moore is thought to have bigger aspirations. But it might be too soon for him. Carol Gregory has run before and would be a good candidate, but she was just elected to the school board.

Other names mentioned are Keith Tyler, who ran for the City Council a few years ago, Rick Hoffman, who has also run before, and school administrator Liz Drake. Roger Flygare was planning to join Greg Baruso and run against Rep. Linda Kochmar for the House, but now his plans may have changed.

With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, the Democrats cannot afford to lose this Senate seat, but they will if they can’t find a good candidate and provide them a lot of money. And Republicans are feeling so good about winning control of the Senate that they talk in terms of no longer needing Democrats Rodney Tom or Tim Sheldon in their caucus.

Down in Vancouver, there are rumors that Sen. Don Benton, who got a new government job, will step down after filing so the seat will stay Republican. And speaking of rumors, Republican Steve McNey has moved to Federal Way where he has managed several successful campaigns. Could he be interested in a House seat? Or a Council seat next year?

But the most interesting rumor? Democrat Shari Song who ran against Reagan Dunn for the County Council on the Eastside will move to Federal Way and run against Miloscia for the senate. She has relatives here.

Will she actually move, and how will local Democrats react? And how will voters react? The rumors regarding Song may be the reason that Flygare is now eyeing a Senate bid against Miloscia. Will his move block Song? Could either one defeat Miloscia? Stay tuned, it is starting to get interesting.

Over at City Hall, there was also some changes. A new finance director was confirmed by the City Council and longtime  Public Works and Parks and Recreation Director Cary Roe took a job in Kennewick. Ferrell is likely to split the job in two to provide better focus on both needs.

Ferrell has already split Patrick Doherty’s job, allowing Doherty to concentrate on planning and hiring another director to concentrate on economic development. Also, Andy Hwang was appointed permanent police chief. He was serving as acting chief after Brian Wilson’s promotion to Chief of Staff.

Hwang is well liked in the community and knows the department well. He also reflects the diversity that is part of Federal Way’s culture. There had been some thought in the community that with the recent allegations regarding police abuse, Ferrell might consider bringing in an outsider to ensure a fresh look was taken at the department. He decided to go with a known quantity.

At the school district, the board is struggling with how to get along amid rumors that Superintendent Rob Neu may be looking for work elsewhere. And the Aberdeen School District announced it hired former Federal Way High School principal Lisa Griebel.

Wonder if we will ever know the real story on that one? Lastly, South King Fire and Rescue released a complaint filed by Chief Al Church against Commissioner Mark Freitas alleging “harassment and hostile work environment.”

It turned out to look more like elementary school playground issues than one worth $23,000 of taxpayer money. We hoped they could start to put the bad feelings behind them after the report was released. No such luck. Already a flare-up over an issue from the last budget cycle. Change and controversy. The year is off to a bumpy start.

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


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