Turnout will play a big role in determining election winners in Federal Way.
Even though city and county elections are non-partisan, party affiliation is important in a candidate’s base vote. Typically, Republican voters are more disciplined in off-year elections, such as this, and turn out better than Democrats. Incumbent Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell was a Republican who turned Democrat, whose policies are more Republican. Playing both sides for the last five years makes it likely he will be re-elected mayor of Federal Way.
However, after the election, Ferrell will have a lot of work to do with some constituents who lacked enthusiasm in voting for him. He raised over $100,000 and simply overwhelmed Susan Honda’s efforts to get her message out.
Diana Noble-Gulliford will pick up primary opponent Jack Stanford’s more conservative voters, and that is likely to be enough to defeat first-time candidate Hoang Tran. The race between Martin Moore and Roger Flygare is the most difficult to handicap as each candidate has weaknesses that concern voters. Even though Moore is a former Democrat who turned Republican, he will benefit from the Republican turn out and likely retain his seat, although Flygare did better in the debates and could pull off the upset.
The race between incumbent Bob Celski and newcomer Jesse Johnson has been the most interesting as it highlights generational differences and pits experience against potential, status quo against the future, and provides a glimpse into the changing diversity of Federal Way.
Again, the expected Republican turnout should help Celski win this race, but if you are looking for an upset special, this might be it as Johnson has worked hard.
Proposition No. 1 to rebuild and upgrade our schools faces a big hurdle as it needs 40 percent of last year’s turnout and 60 percent of those to vote yes. That’s a high hill to climb, but improvements are badly needed. A big turnout over the school issue could affect other races.
Next door in Auburn, Mayor Nancy Backus is expected to be re-elected, and look for Jenny Durkin to be the new mayor of Seattle.
In King County, incumbent Executive Dow Constantine will win big. The sheriff’s race went from predictable to tight as more negative stories broke about incumbent John Urquhart’s behavior. Most think he will hang on over Mitzi Johanknecht. It all depends on Seattle Democrats’ turnout. If the mayor’s race between two well-known women results in a big women’s vote, Urquhart could be in trouble.
County Council members Pete von Reichbauer and Dave Upthegrove are unopposed for re-election to the County Council. Out in County Council District 9, Reagan Dunn will be re-elected.
Look for Stephanie Bowman and John Creighton to be re-elected to the Seattle Port Commission and Peter Steinbrueck to join them.
The most important race in the state is on the east side of Lake Washington in the 45th District, as control of the State Senate, and potentially the Legislature, hangs on the outcome. The seat is a special election due to the passing of Republican Andy Hill.
Democrat Manka Dhingra came out of the primary with the lead and doesn’t seem likely to lose it despite an aggressive campaign by Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund.
The race hasn’t been pretty and serves as a harbinger of next year’s battle for the state Legislature.
The other race that is far more low key, but may be just as important for the future of Federal Way, is for deputy mayor of the City Council.
The public does not have a direct vote on this one; it will be decided by the seven members of the council who are in office next January. While the job has no real power, it does have a title that some potential candidates for mayor in four years would like to have on their resume.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn and retired public official. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.