For those who don’t know me, I’m the person who sponsored and collected signatures for the elected mayor initiative, which the voters then voted for in 2009.
During that long and arduous process, I had a conversation with then-State Rep. Skip Priest. He made it very clear that he opposed the elected mayor form of government — at least for Federal Way. Of course, as soon as we passed the initiative, he was there to take advantage.
I refer now to the Aug. 9 Mirror column by Bob Roegner, in which we see how, after two years of Skip Priest as Federal Way’s mayor, nothing has changed. I hope it’s obvious to the voters how Mr. Priest has effectively managed to keep the council-manager system in place. The status quo we fought so hard to change is alive and well.
Without going into the details of my own experiences with the city, I need to remind the readers why I have spent so much time on that elected mayor initiative.
You see, I tried to work with the city. I tried to show them the facts surrounding an issue that affected me and my neighbors. Time after time, I tried to bring the issues before the city council because that was my final option as a Federal Way resident.
But my words were lost within the maze of bureaucracy that existed. “Passing the buck” seemed to be the hallmark of the council-manager (aka “weak mayor”) system of city government. The “mayor” was simply a council leader — a ceremonial position.
It was then that I knew that only with a real elected mayor would we have the checks and balances that comes when there’s an executive branch answering to the people.
I refer again to Mr. Roegner’s excellent article, and a conclusion I share: we haven’t seen the leadership we need to make that fundamental change to an elected mayor work.
For that simple reason, I need to ask the voters to remember why we made the change — why we elected our mayor. Sure, it requires that the right person be elected. But now we’ve had two years to examine that, and it’s pretty clear that what we have is not what we fought for.
Sorry, Skip. You must go.
Roy Parke, Federal Way