Letters to the Editor

Special interests and elected mayors | Federal Way letters

I was on a citizen panel that met with the consultant handling the city manager search.

We listed qualities and characteristics essential for that position. Since that meeting, I am even more convinced that having an elected mayor in Federal Way is wrong-headed and inefficient.

A city manager is a professional administrator who serves at the pleasure of our seven member Federal Way City Council. The city manager has long-term experience with personnel and city departments, a proven record of budget planning, fulfillment and reallocation, plus successful negotiating skills with labor and governments at all levels. The city manager implements policies set by city council, while making the city run smoothly and productively. Most city managers are certified, recognizing their high standards of competence and performance.

There are no requirements, qualifications or certifications for mayors. What is required are financial contributions from individuals and large voting block endorsements. These entities expect payback after election that may not be beneficial to the public at large. Popularity and a big bankroll, not administrative competence, get a mayor elected.

An elected mayor answers to no one except special interests. That sets up an immediate adversarial relationship with the city council. The public good becomes a pawn that may not be well served. I’ve seen these battles over several decades in New York and Houston. We now see it in Seattle, along with an upcoming mayoral election between candidates ill-prepared for the job — even though special interests are vying for stated loyalty, endorsements and implicit payback.

Federal Way needs an independent administrator accountable to all its citizens, not just special interests. I want a qualified, professional city manager hired by our seven elected city council members.

On Nov. 3, please vote no for an elected mayor.

H. David Kaplan, Federal Way

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