19 want to join Federal Way City Council

The six remaining council members will decide who the new council member will be, and politics will play a role.

With only a few names for most of the week, some council members may have wondered if they might need to add another week to allow more people to apply. But by Friday at the close of business, 19 residents had applied to fill the position vacated by Jesse Johnson’s appointment to the state Legislature to replace Kristine Reeves. A list of the applicants is published in a related story by the editorial staff.

And while each candidate may have friends and supporters in the community, it is the six remaining council members who will decide who the new council member will be.

There is some thought that since Johnson was a Democrat of color that his replacement should also fit that profile to maintain balance. But each council member will be looking for someone who will vote like them as four votes makes policy.

Does political party matter? Legally, no, city positions are non-partisan.

Although some council members try and hide their affiliation, politics is always part of the process. And while they may try and keep it low-key, both political parties want one of their own appointed to the vacant position. And the more people a candidate knows, the better.

Council members Linda Kochmar, Mark Koppang and Martin Moore are Republicans. Hoang Tran leans Republican, but can be independent and supported some of Democratic Jesse Johnson’s ideas. Lydia Assefa-Dawson is a Democrat who has supported Republicans. Susan Honda claims independent.

For most of the applicants, their political identity is unknown. But when the interviews take place there will be questions from the council members that try to determine each candidate’s interest, leanings and priorities. Of the known candidates, Allison Taylor is the current chair of the 30th District Democrats, and Roger Flygare and Katherine Festa are active Democrats. Tony Pagliocco and Jack Dovey are known Republicans.

Since the winner of the position will have to run for election in 2021, political experience is important.

Hope Elder and Jack Dovey have experience as both have previously served on the City Council.

Flygare has name familiarity as he has run unsuccessfully for office several times, including a run against council member Moore. That also holds true for Festa and Pagliocco who ran for City Council last fall in the race that Kochmar won. Pagliocco could have won that race but toward the end some of his supporters started to have doubts as rumors of legal issues circulated.

Greg Baruso ran for the state Legislature as a Democrat in 2014 against Kochmar and is the current chair of the Diversity Commission. Having run for office is an advantage as those who have run are likely to be more knowledgeable about city issues, which is important.

Karen Brugato is active in the community as is Joseph Bowman. Each council member already has their favorites for political or policy reasons. But watch the process and listen carefully as council questions will give hints who they favor or don’t favor.

And who are the frontrunners? Pagliocco has been working behind the scenes for several weeks to muster the needed four votes and may have two, but he may have trouble closing the deal. Others to watch are Festa, Baruso, Brugato and Bowman.

But there are several candidates that are not well-known to the public at large. Is there a star among them that will emerge?

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