Federal Way will be a hotbed of political intrigue in 2018, and there will be plenty to keep your interest. First is to see who replaces Jeanne Burbidge as deputy mayor. Who wins the race will provide a clue about relationships, how the City Council will operate, and about their interaction with Mayor Jim Ferrell. The behind-the-scenes politics have already gotten a little edgy.
The council-mayor retreat should be very interesting and is a must-attend for political junkies.
The state Legislature will convene in late January for a short 60-day session. After winning a special election in the 45th district, the Democrats now control the state Senate, in addition to the House of Representatives, by a slim margin, along with the governor’s office. McCleary education funding will still be a hot topic as will the capital budget, and both could have big local impacts. The short session may hinder passage of some needs, but the homeless, the Performing Arts and Event Center and the possibility of the University of Washington joining Highline College in Federal Way are among issues to watch. Democrats will likely be cautious not to overplay their hand, and controversial issues like taxes and gun control will not be seen until the following session, and that depends on who is in charge.
In February, the Rotary Club will hold its annual gala at the PAEC, and it will be well attended, and the money goes to the needy. But residents will watch the politics of the PAEC very closely this year. Will the city reduce some of the costs to the Rotary Club so more of the proceeds can go to help those in need? Or will the cost remain high so the city can lessen the city subsidy?
Sometime during the year we should get an idea if the city will follow through on its plans to tax the residents’ utilities through Lakehaven Utility District, thus making it look like Lakehaven is the one who raised your taxes.
And 2018 is a state election year, and all three of our District 30 legislators, Sen. Mark Miloscia and House members Mike Pellicciotti and Kristine Reeves are up for re-election. Each has carved out an area to try and improve the lives of our residents, but each is expected to face opposition. With our two representatives’ election two years ago, Democrats retained control of the lower House. Will Republicans pour money in the district? And who will the Democrats get to run against Miloscia?
By spring, the focus will return to local issues. Has Ferrell raised the $8 million the PAEC was short? How much of a loss is the PAEC operating at versus expectations? What is the attendance at the performances? Have they sold the naming rights? Has the city sold the Target property? And what about the new grand stair case and the money to pay for it?
Also, how will voters react to the school district’s levy proposal?
As summer arrives and many of us head to the golf course, what will the crime rate status be, and how many of the Violence Prevention Committee recommendations will have been put in place? Are we seeing any progress on a permanent overnight shelter for our homeless? What progress will Sound Transit have made toward Federal Way? Will the city have a celebration of our diversity, and will it commit enough resources to truly reflect our community pride?
At the end of the summer, we will get an idea what the next two-year budget will look like, and by the middle of football season, we will have a better idea how the legislative races are shaping up, and the rumor mill will start speculating on who will run for City Council in 2019. Maybe Ferrell will let us know his future plans?
The biggest newsmakers of 2018 will be the legislators, Superintendent Tammy Campbell and Ferrell. But watch council members Jesse Johnson, Hoang Tran, Lydia Assefa-Dawson and Susan Honda. If they decide to work together on issues and move the focus from the desires of the wealthy to the needs of the poor, they can make a huge difference.
Now tape this column to your refrigerator, right next to your child’s most recent art work. It will help you keep track of issues during the year. Have a great 2018!
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former Auburn mayor and retired public official. He can be reached at email@example.com.