With incumbent Dini Duclos retiring from Position 7 of the City Council, two first-time candidates, Tony Pagliocco and Katherine Festa will challenge one of the most well known former officeholders in Federal Way in Linda Kochmar. Kochmar is a former state representative, and also served as mayor and council member in the council-manager form of governmemt.
Only two will advance to the general election.
Based on experience and name recognition, Kochmar is the clear frontrunner and would be expected to advance to the general election.
With so many challenges facing the city, Kochmar believes her experience will be valuable to the council and she would be able to contribute quickly, despite time away from city government while in the Legislature, and last year campaigning for her old legislative seat.
Kochmar is a Republican, and has the support of fellow Republicans Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox and King County Council member Kathy Lambert. She is troubled by the lack of significant policy debate among council members and believes more check and balance is needed on the city administration and its overspending with the debt and loans for the Performing Arts and Event Center.
She feels a staff person should be hired to coordinate the homeless issues. She doesn’t like the encampments, but feels more beds are needed in the city to help those who want help. She voted to make marijuana legal while in the Legislature, rather than put people in jail for a minor offense. However, she is concerned about the message allowing pot shops would send to young people. She believes the council should have had a policy debate on flying the pride flag rather than leave the issue to Mayor Jim Ferrell. She also questions the use of the Federal Way Community Center as only a warming center, and then sending people back outside to sleep, when it could be used for an overnight shelter with a small investment for staff to help.
Kochmar has long felt the city needs a trained professional city administrator to manage city affairs. Kochmar has raised $10,168.
Neither Festa nor Pagliocco have the city policy experience of Kochmar and will need to demonstrate that they have done their homework on city issues. Festa has lived here for almost 20 years and works for King County as a housing and outreach coordinator. She has seen some of the challenges that face Federal Way up close, and may be able to offer a regional perspective on current hot topics such as affordable housing, homelessness and teaming with nonprofits.
Pagliocco has lived here for five years and serves on three city committees. He had been active in the Republican party with friend, council member Martin Moore. However, due to Kochmar’s longtime connections with Republicans, he has had to branch out to independents and Democrats. He has the least name familiarity and in an effort to improve it, filed paperwork last year and has had signs out for months. He has raised $10,300, and has been endorsed by Moore, Mark Koppang and exchanged donations with Sharry Edwards. He favors allowing pot shops in the city.
Pagliocco works as a supervisor at Boeing with computers and views issues from that perspective. He has a tendency to speak in broad platitudes and supports safe political topics that all candidates are likely to support: good streets, financial transparency, a strong police force and more community and vocational programs. That avoids alienating voters, but he will need to refine his thoughts and be more specific on “how” he plans to accomplish those goals and where the money will come from, if he makes it to the final in November.
He feels the city has been lax on panhandling and doesn’t view Federal Way as a solid business investment, as our reputation on crime has gone downhill in the last five years, which he believes has hurt our economic development options. He wants to change that perception and expand FUSION and the Federal Way Day Center to help with the homeless challenge.
In his literature he spoke of “new ideas, not old politics.” Since some in Kochmar’s camp took that as a swipe at Kochmar, the race could become more interesting.
Festa has raised $11,268 and believes we need a broader approach to the homeless problem. She is active with the Democrats, has the endorsement of former County Executive Ron Sims, current Assessor John Wilson, and County Executive Dow Constantine spoke at her kick-off. She opposed the city utility tax on Lakehaven as it hurts the poor and elderly who can least afford it. She preferred the tax on pot shops. She wants a senior center that is properly funded and managed by the city. Festa sits on the “Chief’s Call,” which advises the police chief on issues related to the community and policing. She will also need to add more detail to her thoughts if she makes it to November.
Kochmar is the early frontrunner, can raise the money and has a built-in support group in the Republicans. They will turn out in both the primary and the general election. But whom will she face in the November election? Festa is more well known than Pagliocco, has a base of support from the Democrats and some experience that would be helpful. Likely Kochmar and Festa advance to November. But if Pagliocco raises enough money it could be close.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this column incorrectly stated that Pagliocco has been endorsed by Edwards. The column was updated with the correct information that Pagliocco exchanged donations with Edwards.