Have you ever thought about running for office? Are you happy with how things are going? Do you think involvement is a civic responsibility? Then 2019 might be the year for you! We have four local governments led by elected local citizens that serve our community.
City government, which is a general purpose government, along with three special purpose governments: the Federal Way School District, South King Fire District and Lakehaven Utility District.
Each one of the four governments has seats up for election this year, and each is interesting in its own way. While most of the incumbents will run for re-election, several residents have also expressed an interest in running, particularly for the City Council. Having a healthy debate about government policy is always good. The more the candidates the better the debate.
By law, the positions up this year are non-partisan, but political affiliations and contacts make a big difference in how many voters might know a candidate.
If you’re new to the idea, don’t worry about it, many candidates have run more than once before they have been successful in winning office. But running for office is a tremendous learning experience.
The headliner is the City Council, which will have four seats up for election: those seats currently held by Lydia Assefa-Dawson, Mark Koppang, Susan Honda and Dini Duclos. Duclos is rumored to be retiring and not running for re-election. The other three are all making moves that suggest they are planning to run. Most candidates will focus on Duclos’s Position 7 if she doesn’t run, as an open seat is usually easier to win than defeating an incumbent. Council members are elected at-large and have several monthly meetings to attend along with civic events.
Honda has already filed paperwork to retain her seat in Position 3. There is much speculation about other possible candidates and the names mentioned most often include Linda Kochmar, former state representative, mayor and council member, who is thought to be interested in Duclos’s position; local businessman Roger Flygare who has run for several different local positions; Allison Taylor who is an active Democrat and was involved in Jesse Johnson’s successful race for the council in 2017. Katherine Nesta, who works for King County, and filed paperwork several months ago for Position 7. Community newcomer Tony Pagliocco filed paperwork last year for Position 7 and has already raised several thousand dollars and has an in-kind donation of leftover campaign supplies from incumbent councilman Martin Moore. Another name mentioned is Tirza Idahosa who ran for the state Legislature last year as a Democrat.
Position 7 could have three potential candidates, but Pagliocco and Kochmar are both Republicans and it seems unlikely they would both run for the same seat and split their voting base. Look for one of them to change positions if Kochmar does decide to run.
Assefa-Dawson is a Democrat, but she has helped Kochmar in the past so Kochmar is unlikely to run against her, although Pagliocco could. He would not run against Koppang, nor would Kochmar as Koppang has also been active with Republicans. But Democrat Idahosa could run in that position. All the options are still open.
School board positions focus only on education and are elected by district, so if you are interested you will need to check which district you live in. Positions up this year are newly appointed Luckisha Phillips in Position 3, and incumbent board member Hiroshi Eto in Position 5.
Claire Wilson was elected to the state Senate, but has stated she plans to complete her school board term that ends this year, but not run again. Her Position 2 will be open for candidates. Some had thought she might decide to resign and concentrate on the Legislature, and let the board pick her replacement.
Lakehaven Utility District has positions open that are held by incumbents Tim McLain and Don Miller. The district is responsible for water and sewer in the community and is involved in a lawsuit against the city over a utility tax. The council adopted Mayor Jim Ferrell’s recommendation on the tax issue after several weeks of discussion with Lakehaven. The city won the first round but Lakehaven has appealed.
Only one commissioner position on the South King Fire and Rescue board is up and it is held by longtime incumbent Bill Gates.
It is important to think about what each issue deals with and whether new blood is preferable to seasoned experience.
The city has a much broader responsibility, but the school district, Lakehaven and SKFR have significant public responsibilities and are separate taxing districts.
These are important positions to the future of our area and need good leadership. They could also be a stepping stone to higher office.
Are you happy with how things are or do you want to see change? Think about it.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.