All the races for City Council this fall will be interesting. But this one bears close watching. Mark Koppang is an established incumbent who chairs the Council Land Use and Transportation Committee. He has higher ambitions, a business background, generally conservative views, connections to the Republican Party and is an ally of Mayor Jim Ferrell, who has contributed to Koppang’s reelection.
His opponent Jamila Taylor, could be a future star if elected. She is an attorney who advocates for domestic survivors, other crime victims and those in need. She is bright, articulate and has raised almost as much money as incumbent Koppang. She is a Democrat and serves on the city Human Services Commission.
The two candidates bring different points of view and provide options for the voter.
Koppang is completing his first term on the council, has raised $10,100 so far in his reelection bid and several Republicans, including former Mayor Skip Priest, council member Martin Moore, are included in his donor list, along with Democrats, Ferrell and Sharry Edwards, who is a candidate for the council in another race. Tony Pagliocco is also running for a seat on the council and has donated to Koppang, suggesting the beginnings of a potential future voting block. Koppang is also supported by the Association of Realtors, among others.
While on the council, Koppang has been supportive of improved public safety, the new Performing Arts and Event Center staircase and has sided with Ferrell on his no tolerance policy toward the homeless. However, Koppang notes that the city has not spent much from the general fund on homeless and hopes that can change in 2020.
He is supportive of economic development efforts such as DaVita in the former Weyerhaeuser campus area, and believes allowing taller buildings would attract more business. Koppang was opposed to overturning moratorium on pot shops, but acknowledges other cities have not had much trouble with them and voted in favor of referring the question to the voters.
In contrast, Taylor speaks more to social needs in the city such as affordable housing, better access to human services and higher priorities for youth programs as a multi-pronged effort to give community young people more options for success. She is concerned about the city shifting responsibility for the homeless to churches and nonprofits when their budgets are already tight, without budget support from the city. She also wants equitable economic development.
Taylor supported having the voters decide the if they want pot shops in town. Mayor Ferrell denied a request to fly the pride flag. Taylor would have supported flying the pride flag as a message that Federal Way is a city of inclusion. While Koppang felt the government flags were enough and a policy to cover the pride flag was not a high priority.
Taylor has the support of several name Democrats including state Sen. Claire Wilson, state Reps. Kristine Reeves and Mike Pellicciotti, along with state Rep. Debra Entenman, and Noah Purcell who may be the next attorney general. Taylor has support from some unions including SEIU. Other groups include the women’s Caucus and the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. Taylor feels a change in direction is needed and that the council needs to provide a more balanced role in setting policy with Ferrell.
Both candidates are active in the community and want more family wage jobs.
With the other races having clear front runners and the council divided over many of Ferrell’s actions, this could be an important race in determining city direction in the next two to four years. It will be decided in November, as there will not be a primary.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact email@example.com.