Thinking ahead to Federal Way City Council races

Four seats will be up for election next year and there is much speculation about who will run.

My column was due prior to the legislative primary, so we will review election results next week.

Even though most voters will continue to concentrate on the legislative races and who has control of Congress and the state Legislature, many people are already thinking ahead to Federal Way City Council races in 2019.

Four seats will be up for election next year and there is much speculation about who will run.

Susan Honda in position 3 of the city council will be up. She challenged incumbent Mayor Jim Ferrell last year, and Ferrell was re-elected. If Honda wants to stay on the council, she will have to defend her position. Most think she will run for re-election to a third term and be hard to beat. Her experience with a still young city council remains very valuable. Her commitment to working on the homeless problem, budget caution and maintaining a check and balance on Ferrell are other reasons for her to run.

On the down side, the 2017 mayor’s race was difficult and considerably less than pleasant on occasion. Also, Ferrell may be looking for someone to run against Honda. Her candidacy did reveal some of Ferrell’s weaknesses that others may use to challenge him in four years. It would be a surprise if she didn’t run.

One of those who watched the mayor’s race very closely was Councilman Mark Koppang. He holds position 5 and has been acting like a candidate for a second council term for several months. Koppang ran for the council three times before finally winning, and while still new to the council, he has tried to take a leadership role.

Koppang was one of the leaders behind the scenes to help derail Ferrell’s misguided effort to rename 320th Street as Veterans Way. With the Mirror poll showing 80 percent opposition to the plan, Koppang picked the right issue. He is employed in the private sector, but needs to burnish his business credentials if he wants to position himself for the future.

Like Koppang, Lydia Assefa-Dawson in position 1 will be completing her first term on the city council. She defeated perennial candidate Mark Greene by four points two years ago. She has a compelling personal story of perseverance and could be a significant force in speaking for those that can’t speak for themselves. However, at times she has appeared hesitant to assert herself, but still seems likely to run.

The fourth opening is in position 7 and is held by Dini Duclos. Rumors of her desire to step down have fueled much of the talk about potential candidates. Most of the speculation centers on Sharry Edwards, Tony Pagliocco, Roger Flygare and Linda Kochmar — if the latter’s attempt to return to the state Legislature is not successful.

But two other names are feeding speculation: Tirzah Idahosa and Katherine Festa. Edwards has said she is not as interested as she was last year when she lost in the primary to Hoang Tran. Pagliocco seems to have already started campaigning and filed the paperwork several weeks ago for Duclos’ position 7. Flygare’s name always seems to surface when discussing elections and he has run for several different offices. Last year, he lost a race for the council to Martin Moore. Some local Democrats think Idahosa — if she doesn’t advance to the general election in her race for the state Senate — could be interested in the city council. Festa is employed by King County and has filed with the Public Disclosure Commission for position 7 held by Duclos, thus joining Pagliocco.

All city elected positions are non-partisan by law, although each candidate will try and appeal to a broad group of voters to have a chance at winning. Thus candidates do try and reach across the political devide. Honda, Koppang, Pagliocco and Kochmar have had ties to the Republican party but will, or have, also sought support from the Democrats when seeking non-partisan office.

Assefa-Dawson has been an active Democrat while at the same time supporting some Republicans. Edwards and Flygare are active Democrats, but would also reach out to Republicans and independents for support. Duclos has been pretty independent during her time on the council.

It’s still early, so other candidates may surface. But a serious candidate has to start planning and making contacts now to improve their chances of success.

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

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