Bumpy start for Federal Way mayoral election | Bob Roegner

It’s only April, and we’re already off to a rousing if troubling start to the mayoral race.

We now have three official candidates for mayor: City council member Jim Ferrell, council member Mike Park and current Mayor Linda Kochmar, who announced this week.

Ferrell has been the most active. He has campaign signs up already and has done some fundraising along with doorbelling. His kick-off breakfast is April 20.

Ferrell’s campaign also ran into its first controversy, as one of his campaign supporters sent a letter to the Federal Way Mirror that was highly critical of Park and Kochmar. While organized letter writing is a tradition in campaigning, many in the community felt the letter was over the line and exceeded normal campaign rhetoric. Others wondered if this was a planned campaign tactic by Ferrell to use third parties to attack his opponents. Ferrell denied having a role in the letter. However, the community reaction put Ferrell on the defense, as he has to work with Park and Kochmar on council business.

Ferrell acknowledged he was uncomfortable with the tone of the letter and also felt some of the statements were inaccurate. Ferrell then apologized to both of his council colleagues, but that wasn’t the only awkward moment in this early campaign season.

Park’s expected entry into the mayor’s race has been an open secret for several weeks. However, his formal announcement carried on the front page of The Mirror was forced early by a complaint from the Ferrell camp to the state Public Disclosure Commission. According to Ferrell, Park held two fundraisers, on March 9 and 26, without filing the necessary paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

The intent of the state requirement is to ensure that candidates publicly reveal in a timely manner who is donating money to their campaign and how that money is spent.

Park’s paperwork was filed by March 30, and he says Ferrell is in error, as there was no fundraiser on March 9. The state PDC will sort it out.

Over the years, city races in Federal Way have been hard-fought but civil affairs. In the Proposition 1 campaign to establish the strong mayor system last year, we saw the introduction of a harsher, more negative tone into city politics. As a result, many worried the race to become Federal Way’s first full-time mayor would likely be a contentious affair.

Now, at a time when most campaigns are still under the radar, and the public’s attention is on the opening of baseball season or the first sighting of daffodils, we’ve already had two controversies.

Is this the trend many feared would occur, or simply a bumpy start? Only time will tell.

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