Regardless of the primary’s outcome and who will be our choices for the general election, there is one issue in particular that will define how candidates position Federal Way for a more positive future.
No, it is not law and order. Politicians using a "law and order first" agenda are ginning up fear to appeal to the lowest common elements in each of us. That is not leadership and as a community we deserve better.
The real defining element in this year’s election is the Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC). If Federal Way is going to start growing into the mantle of being the city of choice in the South Puget Sound, it needs to invest in its cultural infrastructure.
My wife and I moved here knowing that Federal Way had many good qualities, but realized quickly that it lacked certain cultural resources. A performance facility is something that is an asset and focal point for any community. Sadly, I have heard my share of negative comments regarding the PACC. I believe the comments are shortsighted.
In Texas, I worked for a city that built an arts facility that included two theaters, several art galleries and an outdoor sculpture garden. The facility quickly became a valued resource that enhanced the quality of life for the greater community. The PACC will do the same for Federal Way.
Fortunately, the PACC has lots of supporters, and pledges are being made for specific rooms, the plaza and seats. Things are looking good, but more support is needed. However, if all the efforts under way do not come to fruition, Federal Way as a city will have significant challenges to overcome when courting future development.
The few politicians who see the city’s needs through the law and order lens are displaying a lack of imagination and understanding of how to use community and governmental resources as attractors for economic development. The economics of not investing in Federal Way’s cultural infrastructure in the short term maintains the current path of becoming an economically stressed community. The PACC can be a catalyst for positive change.
What citizens need to understand is that if the PACC is not built, it sends a negative message to anybody considering Federal Way as their future home. With the PACC, Federal Way becomes a better community. Without it, it will be harder for Federal Way to attract quality investors.
Our history as a city is out there to be seen by all who are looking for an opportunity. A few keystrokes on a computer and all cities become an open book. Regardless of Federal Way’s history, we have a story to write. That responsibility is in the hands of our elected officials. If Federal Way is going to be a successful city, their rhetoric matters, but their actions write the story.
To move this city forward requires leadership, and as citizens we need to encourage more investment in quality of life attractors such as the PACC, aesthetics, education, transportation and building a community where people and businesses thrive. I believe Federal Way is worth the risk and so should you.
Keith Livingston, Federal Way