There may be some upsets in the making for some of the local races this fall. The most likely is in County Council District 2, where longtime incumbent Larry Gossett polled only 36.7% and was trailing Girmay Zahilay who was at 56.1%. Many, possibly including Zahilay, thought Gossett might choose to retire, rather than run again.
The other county race to watch this fall is in District 4, with incumbent council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles.
The council race for Pos. 3 between Susan Honda and Sharry Edwards seems unlikely to change as Honda walked off with a final total of 56% to Edwards 22%. The surprise there was that Lamonte Styles closed the election night gap with Edwards by three points, to finish at 21%. He was just short of making the final.
Despite Honda’s 30 point lead, Edwards is still maneuvering and has now decided to reject the Democrats’ endorsement. At the meeting where she was censured, a motion was made to withdraw the endorsement but the chair ruled it out of order, and Edwards may have thought it would come up again and reacted too soon. Now the Democrats will likely withdraw the endorsement. As an independent, Edwards will go after the conservative votes that her mentor Mayor Jim Ferrell has been courting.
But an upset could be brewing in the City Council race for Pos. 7 between longtime officeholder Linda Kochmar and newcomer Tony Pagliocco. On election night, Kochmar was leading with 41.4% while Pagliocco trailed at 32.7%. Third-place finisher Katherine Festa was at 25%. After the ballots were counted, Kochmar slipped to 39.8%, Pagliocco held at 32.7% and Festa gained 2%, and moved up to 27%.
Kochmar’s slipping under 40% and dropping a nine-point lead to seven, gives the appearance of vulnerability, when Kochmar needed to show an incumbent’s level of strength.
Kochmar has held office in Federal Way for most of the last two decades, and is about as well known as a person can be. Pagliocco and Festa are first-time candidates. Kochmar raised $13,218 and spent $10,438 for her 39%, and Pagliocco raised $9,150 and spent $7,441 for his 32.7%. Both have credentials as Republicans.
The key to the race is Festa’s voters. Festa is a Democrat, and while the council positions are nonpartisan, who will Democratic voters support? Many would have a hard time voting for Kochmar given her Republican status, but Pagliocco was also an active Republican and only recently started calling himself an independent. Insiders believe that is because he was unable to undermine Kochmar’s support among baseline Republican voters. He now has the opportunity to remake himself in voters eyes. This could give Pagliocco the advantage, as many voters don’t know him or his political history. His campaign has been vague about some policy issues. But that also troubles many Democrats. What are his true values?
Kochmar has likely looked at the numbers and sees the same thing. She will try and court Democratic and independent voters. She will remind Democrats that she supported legalizing marijuana in the Legislature, and in a recent candidate night with an audience representative of Federal Way’s diversity, she supported establishing a police oversight board on the use of force issue.
The race between a Republican and a recent former Republican will be decided by Democrats and independents.
The other race that could see an upset is for Pos. 5 between incumbent Mark Koppang and challenger Jamila Taylor. There was no primary so both advance to the general election. Koppang is the front runner, but Taylor is a bright newcomer. Koppang’s base is the more conservative voters, and he has been trying to broaden his appeal by reminding voters that the council is nonpartisan. Taylor is an active Democrat and turnout will determine the winner. There are differences between the candidates in each race.
Two major candidate debates are in October. One is in front of the business community at the Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon Oct. 2; the other is the Mirror’s public debate Oct. 9. This should be an interesting fall.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact email@example.com.