The surprising announcement by Federal Way City Council member, Bob Celski, that he would not seek re-election has thrown a huge curve ball at a candidate pool that was starting to take shape. Celski is a Republican and was thought by many to have higher aspirations. He had been rumored as a possible candidate for the state Legislature, and had mentioned previously an interest in Congress.
Early in the election cycle it appeared incumbent, Dini Duclos, might not seek another term on the City Council, and Republican businessman, Mark Koppang, might run for her seat. More recently she has been sounding like a candidate who would like to stay in office to see the Performing Arts and Conference Center completed. That raised the question of Koppang’s continued interest. He had previously said it would be unlikely he would challenge her. Some local interests were trying to talk Koppang into the race anyway.
With Celski bowing out, Koppang seems almost certain to run for the vacant position. But he may have company.
The other candidate drawing political speculation was Anthony Murrietta. He has run before and has remained visible. There were two possible scenarios involving Murrietta. The first was, he might run against Susan Honda, however she announced early to try and send a message to potential would-be challengers that she was ready for a race.
The second, and maybe more likely scenario, was that Murrietta would run against Lydia Assefa-Dawson. Assefa-Dawson was appointed to the council a few months ago to replace Jim Ferrell after he was elected mayor.
Both Murrietta and Assefa-Dawson are Democrats and some thought that might deter Murrietta from running against her. But Assefa-Dawson made two major tactical errors last summer. Her attendance at a campaign party for Republican State Rep. Linda Kochmar was noticed and frowned upon by local Democrats. But the biggest error was when she joined fellow City Council member, Martin Moore, as “Democrats for Mark Miloscia.” Miloscia is a former Democrat who switched to the Republican party and was just elected to the state Senate. Moore made Assefa-Dawson’s problems bigger when he left her out on a limb by joining Miloscia and switching from Democrat to Republican. The two moves raised credibility problems for her and may have left her exposed to a candidate from her own party.
However, if Murrietta is drawn to the position vacated by Celski and decides to take on Koppang it could reduce some pressure on Assefa-Dawson. But, in that circumstance could Assefa-Dawson find herself with a different Democratic challenger? Would Democrat Shari Song, who ran for the state Senate last year, or Richard Champion who was a candidate for the appointment to the House of Representatives that went to Carol Gregory be interested in challenging Assefa-Dawson? Could Greg Baruso, who ran for the Legislature last year, or Roger Flygare, who previously ran for both the legislature and the City Council be interested as well?Assefa-Dawson has never run for office before and the others have, which gives them more experience.
And to add further to your thought process, remember Flygare ran against Honda four years ago.
Lastly, while Assefa-Dawson has previously said she was planning to run, it is only recently that she has started to make moves that suggest she is serious about running. The next question is who will be her opponent? Up until this week, it looked like it might be a dull election. Now, it could still be dull or it might be pretty exciting.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn: email@example.com.