Letters to the Editor

Top qualities in a mayor | Federal Way letters

Many of us stood in strong opposition to the change in city government structure to a strong mayor system from a council/professional city manager system. While we are convinced the outcome was a giant step backward for the city, the fact remains the measure passed by a slim margin and it is what it is.

The challenge now is to select a dynamic, skilled, knowledgable mayor that understands the highly complex nature of city government functions and leads the city in a positive direction that promotes sustainable growth, economic stability, prosperity and a high quality of life for the 93,000 residents that live here.

We must find the candidate that embodies the three C's of effective leadership in confronting challenges we will face. Those three C's are courage, conviction and commitment, and will shape our communtity for years to come. It will also bring with it a certain level of conflict as it will take courage and conviction to manage the loud, noisy minority who lays claim to speaking for everyone, when in reality they speak for a relative few activists who share a common view that is generally quite negative. They tend to be the anti-everything crowd, and at least one of the candidates regularly panders to them for political gain.

The best candidate will understand the interests of 93,000 residents who have elected them to speak and act on their behalf. That is the constituency that counts. There are a large number of citizens who strongly support the direction this city has gone and believe things like the Community Center, Celebration Park, the sign code and numerous other actions the city council has taken have been good and provided valuable amenities to this city.

As a business owner in this city for well over a decade, I reject the characterization of the city as being repressive to businesses. The general economy has had a whole lot more to do with business health than the actions of the council. The naysayers are quick to blame the city every time a business closes, when in reality, forces well beyond the council were the cause.

It is also apparent the new mayor will also have to possess the two I's of effective leaders, that of intelligence and integrity. Intelligence simply means being smart enough to know what you don't know, and wise enough to surround yourself with people that do. Decisions like opening a police substation are rarely done with any success when created by proclamtion by a political opportunist. Deployment decisions of police officers are best made by skilled police managers who look at the big picture instead of a knee-jerk feel-good reaction by a power seeking politician. The staffing requirement alone and expenses of operating a functional station may well add significant costs and produce very little real benefit. That is why we hire a police chief to make those decisions and recommendations.

As I look at each candidate who is running for office, there are significant differences in style, methods and tact they would take in handling the daily duties and responsibilities of the office. I believe Mayor Linda Kochmar should be retained as the first elected stong mayor of Federal Way. She knows the city inside and out, having been involved since its early inception. She is respected as a hard worker and a dedicated public servant. I may not agree with her 100 percent of the time, but she takes the time to explain her position and help you understand it. Her experience as a risk manager with the Lakehaven Utility District gives her a strong understanding of day to day operations of government.

One measure many people use to gauge support of a candidate is how much campaign money they can raise. Raising campaign money and effectively managing a city have no correlation. In fact, it raises questions about who the candidate will be beholding to. The candidate who can win by raising the least amount of money is the one I would bet on as being truly representative of the people. I would encourage voters to support Mayor Linda Kochmar.

Jerry Vaughn, Federal Way

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