Letters to the Editor

Jim Ferrell's political ambitions | Federal Way letters

After reading the cover story “Jim Ferrell’s Florida connection” Sept. 5 in The Mirror, one thing is abundantly clear. The strong mayor initiative is a lot less about the long-term future of Federal Way city government and a lot more about the blind political ambitions of city council member Jim Ferrell.

Setting up an office and hiring a full-time political consultant from Florida, paid for with campaign contributions, is a bold, calculated move to advance Jim Ferrell’s political career and little more. He has exploited the failed efforts of Accountability Comes to Town (ACT) to create a shell to hide under while he pursues his self-serving, opportunistic agenda. It will be interesting to examine the PDC disclosures to see exactly where his money is coming from. Ferrell will play the card of “just trying to give the people a voice” all while pushing a self-aggrandizing script with one objective: Promote Jim Ferrell.

His personal benefit if elected will be a probable six-figure salary, lucrative fringe benefits and a staff that would likely include a role for his buddy, the Florida political consultant. After all, according to the consultant, “Federal Way is a blank canvas with a ton of potential.” I’m not sure what that means.

Voters should mull a few things in considering this change. As much as you may like Jim Ferrell now, what about who would succeed him if he is elected and moves on to his next higher political calling, a virtual certainty? The qualifications issue then becomes a major question. What if the initiative passes and someone else wins the election for mayor? Are you going to be happy with that outcome if the new mayor doesn’t see things exactly your way? How will Ferrell’s adversarial role affect his relationship with the other members of city council who may feel he threw them under the bus by adopting a posture that the current mayor and council are ineffective and unresponsive in representing the interests of Federal Way citizens? He may learn the truth of the old saying, “What goes around comes around.”

Like Federal Way, 3,034 cities and counties representing over 189 million citizens across the United States have adopted a council-manager form of government to ensure professional, qualified administration. There is an important element built into the system, and that is to keep the corrupting influence of undue political interference out of day-to-day operations of government. It defines the policy making role of council and the operational role of staff. It ensures that policy makers don’t insert themselves improperly into operational issues and that paid professional staff don’t insert themselves improperly into the policy role of duly elected officials.

To describe this system as a “corporate model superimposed on government” is just plain wrong and misleading. The council-manager form has been around since 1914, and is every bit as standard a government structure as the strong mayor system, which is steeped in corruption, incompetence and marginal performance. Yes, there are a lot of cities that have a strong mayor form of government. They are typically very large or small cities. One glance across the country at big cities with their myriad of problems, and one would question the wisdom of imposing that system on Federal Way. Small cities, particularly rural towns, and cities that make up the majority of strong mayor governments do not involve the complexities of a suburban city like Federal Way.

I encourage people to vote no on the strong mayor initiative.

Jerry Vaughn, Federal Way

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