Political forecast for Federal Way’s elected leaders

It is late summer, and insiders and activists spend much time on political speculation waiting for November.

Bob Roegner

Bob Roegner

What does the future hold for our current crop of elected leaders? Will they run for higher office? It is late summer, and insiders and activists spend much time on political speculation waiting for November.

First on any list is always King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. He is the longest-serving local politician and he doesn’t appear to be planning to leave office anytime soon. He was just re-elected to a new four-year term.

Those seen as candidates in the unlikely event he were to step down in the future are Auburn State Sen. Joe Fain and Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell. Both used to work for von Reichbauer — and would not run against him. Both have said they are happy in their current jobs.

King County Council is a non-partisan position, but Republican Fain would likely defeat Democrat Ferrell should the two run for the seat. However, if others were to also get in the race, it could change the dynamics. A candidate running against von Reichbauer in three years is a possibility, but unlikely.

Speaking of Ferrell, he just got re-elected to a four-year term at the same time as von Reichbauer, so if Ferrell were to run in four years, he would not be able to run for mayor at the same time.

At one time, Ferrell was seen as a potential future candidate for prosecuting attorney, attorney general and even Congress. But all three offices have Democratic incumbents. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is favored to win re-election this year, as is Congressman Adam Smith, even though he has a Democratic opponent in the general election. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is not up for re-election for two more years.

Attorney general would only be available if incumbent Ferguson runs for governor. Current Gov. Jay Inslee does seem to be eyeing the White House, but we don’t have enough electoral votes to make him a realistic candidate. A cabinet position is possible if a Democrat wins the presidency. Then you might see Ferguson and King County Executive Dow Constantine in a race for governor, and you can’t forget current Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib as a potential candidate. Constantine is well liked and would be formidable, but right now, Ferguson is hot property because of his challenges to President Trump. Inslee, Constantine and Ferguson are all Democrats and the latter two would likely wait for Inslee to make his decision first, whether that’s on a national run or a third term.

If Ferguson did leave the Attorney General’s Office, Ferrell could run without giving up the mayor’s job because they are on different election cycles. But a more likely front-runner would be District 30 State Rep. Mike Pellicciotti or any well known Seattle Democratic legislator with a law degree. Ferrell would have a hard time courting votes in Seattle because his record looks more Republican than Democratic. Things can always change, but at this point, Ferrell’s options seem to have dwindled and look less promising than they did four years ago. That won’t change unless incumbents above him leave. He could think about going to the private sector. It pays better, but he does not have a specialty that would be in high demand. A run for a third term as mayor is more likely, although Ferrell may have a hard time recovering from 2018, and some think he might not run again. If he does run again, he could have company, and it won’t be an easy race.

Incumbent state Sen. Mark Miloscia, a Republican, is facing a challenge from Federal Way School Board President Claire Wilson, a Democrat. If Miloscia wins, he may decide to run for state auditor again, but that office is held by one of the few Republican statewide elected officials on the West Coast. He could consider county council, but that also seems unlikely. If Wilson, wins she will need to concentrate on keeping the office.

Moving down our list, Federal Way City Councilmember Martin Moore was a Democrat, is now a Republican, and has always wanted to be in the Legislature. He could be a future challenger for either Democrat Pellicciotti or Democratic State Rep. Kristine Reeves’ legislative seats. Although it is unlikely Moore could defeat either one. Councilwoman Lydia Assefa-Dawson showed an unexpected ambitious streak earlier this year when she was expected to vote for Susan Honda for Deputy Mayor, but fell prey to the maneuvering and ran against Honda. Assefa-Dawson is a Democrat who has previously supported Republicans Miloscia and Linda Kochmar, a former state representative and city council member. Could she be a future legislative candidate? Maybe, but she will have to figure out which party she belongs to and right now the two House seats are occupied by Democrats. But four or six years from now, it might be different. Assefa-Dawson is up for re-election to the city council next year.

Councilmember Mark Koppang is a former Republican district chairman who could run for the Legislature. However, lately he has taken great pains to project a non-partisan image, and that suggests he has eyes toward re-election to the council next year, then maybe the mayor’s office in three years.

Be sure and watch the two new Federal Way City Council members, Hoang Tran and Jesse Johnson. Both are smarter than many first-time candidates and are working hard to educate themselves on issues. Either could run for higher office and each has a constituency. Johnson seems more like a potential legislative candidate if either Pellicciotti or Reeves were to choose to step down and leave a House seat available. He has time to wait. The same is true for Tran.

Honda is likely to run for re-election to the city council next year, but unlikely to run for higher office again. Councilmember Dini Duclos seems likely to retire next year.

In an earlier column, I mentioned that Linda Kochmar, Tony Pagliocco, Katherine Festa and Roger Flygare could be interested in running for the city council to replace Duclos. If so, the winner will get ambitious for higher office real fast.

On the school board, Carol Gregory served one year in the State House and Claire Wilson is now running for the state Senate. The other school board members seem unlikely to run for higher office as do members of the boards for Lakehaven Utility District and South King Fire and Rescue.

Current state Sen. Miloscia got his start in politics from the Lakehaven board, so you never know. And out there somewhere might be a candidate we have never heard of who could change everything.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact: bjroegner@comcast.net.

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