Seize your chance to influence city’s future

If you were suddenly made czar of Federal Way, what would you change?

Well, fellow citizens in search of utopia, your time is here. Your city government is reaching out to you to see how you feel about things.

Politically speaking, you get your chance to comment or make changes in the city’s direction every two years when members of the Federal Way City Council are up for election. But this is a special opportunity to help design a small portion of the world you live in.

This first community-wide survey will be sent to 3,000 randomly selected households. There will also be phone surveys, and if you don’t get a survey in the mail or a phone call, you can go to the city’s Web site and fill out a survey.

City communication specialist Linda Farmer’s schedule calls for the survey to be conducted through early September with a draft report in October, and a final report probably in November. Since the city budget is not likely to be adopted until early December, there will be time to consider citizens’ suggestions, goals and thoughts. Quite frankly, it’s hard not to get caught up in Farmer’s enthusiasm for her assignment.

Why is the city doing this now? I’m sure there are plenty of reasons, but if you did this during an election cycle, it would be perceived as political. You want to get good honest citizen feedback, but during the heat of elections isn’t the best time.

One of the things we as a community did learn during the campaign and election between the council-manager and strong mayor forces was that many citizens don’t feel close to their city government — or don’t feel they can affect an outcome of what happens and how we are governed. Even though there are citizens out again collecting signatures, it doesn’t mean you have to change the governmental form to achieve a feeling of inclusion, but it does mean you need to provide citizens with an avenue other than the ballot box to make their feelings known. This is that chance.

So czar and czarina, what do you want Federal Way to be? What do you expect in a quality of life? Is downtown development your highest priority?

Are additional shopping opportunities what you want? Do you want improved transportation? Do you want light rail, bus transportation, and ease of walking or bicycling? Do you want housing, health services, restaurants, parks or cultural amenities? There’s been a lot of discussion about a performing arts center. Do you like that idea? Do you want to pay for it?

Not too long ago, we voted to tax ourselves to add police officers — how do you feel about public safety? What does the city do well? What could it do better?

Part of the survey asks you about city services and departments. What level of taxes are you willing to support to get the city services you want?

It is important for you to participate, not just because you’ve been asked to, but because the results will form a long-term cornerstone for your community. In the short term, the results will form much of the basis for your evaluation of candidates for the city council and Federal Way Municipal Court judge in next year’s elections.

Three council positions and both judges are up for election next year.

As an aside, council member Jim Ferrell was considering running against Judge Michael Morgan, but has now decided not to run.

Now is your chance to provide a vision for Federal Way’s future while you look ahead as to who should be in leadership positions to carry out that vision.

This is democracy in action. Don’t miss your opportunity to be part of it.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.

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