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Dance for Federal Way's top job | Bob Roegner
Do you like to dance? Maybe a waltz occasionally, or something with a little more energy — say a fox trot?
Politically speaking, the dance for the top spot in the city — mayor — has begun. It started with a slow moving waltz as the potential candidates “nuzzled” up to various constituent groups such as political parties, civic organizations, unions and others.
Potential candidates are courting these groups along with influential citizens to assess their support, fundraising ability and to try and identify key issues of concern. They are also looking for selling points. That is, what are the key points they will need to raise to get elected? What do the voters in Federal Way want to see improve or change?
Unfortunately, there is also a not-so-subtle level of attacking other potential opponents. This early “opposition research” phase that starts or fans the rumor mill's flames is intended to hamper the dance partners the voters might be willing to embrace. Already, rumors are being spread or questions are being asked to create doubt in key opinion makers' minds.
But what is important to the voters of Federal Way? Is it important how long a potential candidate has lived here, or whether they already receive a public paycheck, or how successful they have been in the business world, or whether they went to Federal Way schools, or what their heritage or ethnic history is, or what church they go to, or whether their spouse might influence them?
Or are we more concerned about their qualifications, leadership skills and vision of where they want to take us? Will we allow the first campaign for mayor to become one of rumors and whispers designed to undermine potential candidates? Or will we demand more? Do we want to know what skills each candidate will bring to the job of mayor? Don’t we want to know how each candidate will handle the challenges of jobs and economic development, of parks and public safety, annexation and tax burden? What do the candidates see in our future? Do they see a performing arts center and conference facility? What transportation issues do they want to address? Do the potential candidates and their supporters tell us where they want to lead us?
Or do we want our next mayor to simply be the last person standing after all the “hit” pieces have been mailed? Do the candidates or their supporters tell us what they want to achieve, or do they simply tell us what’s bad about other potential candidates? Doesn’t the next mayor need to be someone who can unite a divided community, someone who can lead by fashioning a consensus for a single direction?
The dance has just started, but it will pick up speed. We’ll get to the fox trot phase of this dance, but by the time we hit the jitterbug, we need to have decided what we want in our mayor. So, Federal Way voters, what do you want? What’s important to you? And will you demand a higher level of civic discussion?