The Federal Way City Council will select a new council member to replace former council member Mark Koppang next week from a list of five finalists.
The council recently trimmed the list of candidates from 24 to 5 after an evening of interviews. The residents not chosen for the final group were a good reminder of the diverse nature of our community and of all the people who live here and count on the city for services. They were young and old, male and female, conservative and liberal.
Some had disabilities, others had been homeless. Others were thinking of civic duty. These were real people and they represented the very fabric that is Federal Way. They were a fascinating group to listen to, and they should think about continuing their interest in city government, as each has experience that would add to the council.
Each of the five finalists has something unique to offer as well, but it is different with each one. The most well known finalist is Jack Dovey. He served on the city council for 14 years and was mayor in the former council-manager form of government several years ago. Dovey has run for the Legislature as a Republican and may be the most knowledgable finalist about city government. He is from the private sector and wants a sustainable budget and “sensible city services,” although “sensible” could mean different things to different people.
The remaining four are a contrast to Dovey’s council experience, as none appear to have served on a city board or commission, but have valuable experience in other areas, offer a fresh perspective, and reflect Federal Way’s future.
Mehdi Sadri used to work for Federal Way in technology and is now information technology director at the city of Renton. He would be helpful to the council by providing insight into a difficult field as the city explores its technical future. Sadri has a degree in political science and a master’s in business analytics. He believes the city has good infrastructure in roads, traffic control and utilities, but is curious where downtown is going. Will it become pedestrian oriented around light rail, or will the light rail bring more traffic?
Renae Seam worked at Microsoft’s “Center for Intelligence” and currently works for Boeing Employees Credit Union as a risk manager. She puts citizen trust and safety first and would like to see the city expand its medical research areas. Seam has a master’s degree in business analytics and will look out for the “best interests of the residents.” She is a volunteer tutor and is supportive of building relationships between residents and police.
Jimmy Brown is an education consultant . He wants more diverse economic development that will appeal to younger residents. He wants to decrease crime and develop youth-centered opportunities, along with a focus on small business.
Leandra Craft is a deputy prosecutor for King County and serves on the board of Filipino Lawyers of Washington. In addition to her law degree, she has a degree in political science, and she supports the Federal Way Youth Commission. She believes that transit oriented development around the Sound Transit hub will help downtown. Craft would like to see the Day Center closer to downtown and wants to look for creative responses to crime and homelessness, such as increased community based social services.
Given the conservative nature of the council, Dovey is likely the front-runner. But there is a lot brain power in the final group and it is easy to understand why all made the finals.
Dovey has the most city experience and would need the least training. As noted earlier, Dovey’s city experience stands in contrast to the other finalists who have little or no city board or commission experience. According to their applications, five candidates who did not make the finals have experience on city boards or commissions, which is usually good training for the city council.
Some curious council observers have wondered if that was done by design to help Dovey secure the appointment as the most qualified? If that is not the reasoning, then the other finalists present a great opportunity for inclusion of unrepresented cultures, and to start the process of training the next generation of community leaders as a council member.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact email@example.com.