Things to know about Federal Way | Inside Politics

Bob Roegner - Contributed
Bob Roegner
— image credit: Contributed

The Federal Way Greater Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Becca Martin as its new CEO. She replaces Patti Mullen, who moved back to Oklahoma to help take care of her mother.

Patti lived in the Northwest for 30 years and understood our culture, while Becca is from Pennsylvania where she was head of a Chamber north of Pittsburgh. She also spent some time in Texas.

Since Becca is new, she may have some questions about the unique people of Federal Way and the sunny Northwest that the travel brochures didn’t cover.

Yes, Federal Way is named after a road. We could probably get a majority to vote to have a new name, but we couldn’t get a consensus on what the new name should be. Besides, Auburn was originally called Slaughter. So we’re OK with Federal Way.

We take our sports seriously and we always support the Mariners, no matter how silly that seems at times. Our Seahawks are the World Champions of professional football. It should be our second Super Bowl win, but some referee’s “stole” our first win against the Steelers.

Be sure and buy some green and blue, and dump any black and gold. But we are flexible on some things. You can be either a Husky or a Cougar, depending on who you want as friends. Or you can be Switzerland and remain neutral.

Politically, we are a “blue state.” Most of the Democrats live on the west side of the mountains, mainly in Seattle where only 12 Republicans are allowed within the city limits at any one time.  Republicans live pretty much everywhere else and would prefer it if Democrats would stay in Seattle, or at least in King County. In Federal Way, we are a swing area that leans Democratic, but the independents decide most elections.

We love our coffee and mostly drink Starbucks. However, in Federal Way we drink Cafe D’arte or Poverty Bay coffee because they are local products and their owners give a lot to the community.

We also have our own language. “The mountain is out “ means you can see Mount Rainier. Even though Iowa also has a Des Moines, we pronounce the “s.” “Sun breaks” are those brief moments between rain showers when you can see the sun. It really is up there, it just takes some effort to try and find it. When you see it, call someone and share the news.

Speaking of our language, you will need to work on the correct pronunciation of Puyallup and Tukwila, or people will know you are a foreigner.

Most locals don’t actually own an umbrella. It’s wimpy. We love the rain and when you see the flowers in bloom you will understand why.

We take environmental issues seriously and we recycle almost everything.

Our ferry boat system is the largest in the world and we love them. But it is hard to explain to people in Wenatchee why they should help pay for them even though we pay for their roads. We don’t know what Aplets and Cotlets are but we still buy them for our tourist friends.

We do have a whimsical side and have a college whose nickname is the “Fightin’ Geoducks.” Some of our neighbors have slugs for pets. They don’t do many tricks, but then they don’t take up a lot of your time walking them either.

Federal Way as an area is very old, but we are still in the infant stages of learning to be a city. Like every suburban community, we have about 200 people who are active in everything and many were born and raised here. Without them, we wouldn’t have come this far. But we are changing. We have over 100 different languages spoken here and most of our residents were born somewhere else.

Our school district has gone through some difficult times recently and while those may not be fully in the past yet, we have some really good teachers, staff and parents to help us.

We are more working class than rich but we have hopes and dreams. We want to be a regional player and changing our comfort zone from looking inward to looking outward may not be easy.

But with our geography between two ports, that is where our economic future is. We want a real city center that fits the needs of a city with 90,000 residents, a place that draws the community together for parades and celebrations. City Hall, the police station and the courts would be a nice addition to downtown. So will a large park or green space.

We will have a Performing Arts and Conference Center soon, although many of our residents think there might be higher priorities. Some worry that the fragile nature of the financing plan will be a problem in the future but we hope it isn’t. Sometimes, the city and the business community will agree, sometimes they won’t, and that check and balance is healthy for civil discourse.

Our July 4 celebration is a good family activity. FUSION is one of many charitable events that help the less fortunate.

We have some beautiful assets in PowellsWoods Garden, Dumas Bay, Celebration Park and  the Community Center. We have stunning views of Puget Sound and there is no better place in the world to be in the summer than here. Our summer is the last week in August. Be sure and plan ahead.

We just elected Jim Ferrell as our second full-time mayor. He shows a lot of promise. It wasn’t a fun election and we have a ways to go in how we handle difference of opinion. Some healing is still needed.

We have a local newspaper. It’s called the Mirror, because for better or worse it reflects our community with all its shining success and glaring imperfections.

You will like it here. Like most of us, you chose to live here and that gives us all a community of purpose that will bind us even in our disagreements. Welcome Becca, glad you joined us!

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


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