This is a national and state year in the election cycle, but there is so much speculating and maneuvering going on at the local level as a carryover from last year and preparatory to next year.
We should do an update.
In Federal Way, new city council member Dini Duclos has fit in nicely and after several years on the planning commission. She has a good feel for city government.
Next year, council members Jeanne Burbidge, Eric Faison and Linda Kochmar will be up for re-election. Don’t expect any openings, as most observers anticipate all three will run for re-election. Kochmar was selected as “Best Public Official” in the Best of Federal Way annual poll conducted by The Mirror.
But an interesting race may develop for Federal Way Municipal Court judge. Appointed Judge David Larson will be on the ballot and seems unlikely to draw opposition. Judge Michael Morgan will be finishing his first term, and most City Hall watchers believe he signaled his intent to run by opposing the release of the report on complaints by employees in his office.
The report could be tied up in court beyond next year’s election. That hasn’t stopped the speculation that he will attract a well-known challenger or two. In fact, council member Jim Ferrell, who works in the King County prosecutor’s office, is considering the race.
In Auburn, which has a mayor-council form of government, incumbent Mayor Pete Lewis appears likely to run for a third term. Some have speculated that council member Sue Singer might challenge him, but she seems content to wait until Lewis retires.
However, council member Virginia Haugen apparently doesn’t possess that level of patience and is openly courting the idea of mounting a campaign. Haugen served on the city council several years ago filling an unexpired term, but she was defeated in her bid for re-election and went back to being a community activist.
Last fall, she upset incumbent Roger Thordarson by campaigning against some of the city’s plans for the downtown. This has put her at odds with Mayor Lewis. Her candidacy is far from a sure thing, but she might decide this is her only shot at the big chair.
Most believe she will draw a well-known opponent for her council seat in four years.
In Kent, Suzette Cooke is two and a half years into her first term as mayor, and while there have been some bumps in the road with the city council, things have gone reasonably well. She was also voted “Best Public Official” in the Best of Kent poll sponsored by the Kent Reporter.
We’ll have to see how this plays out over the next few months. Also in Kent, they will appoint a new council member after the passing of Bob O’Brien, so council dynamics will change a little.
In Renton, new Mayor Denis Law is off to a fast start. A majority of the city council, along with some of the city’s powerful unions, supported his election, so that was expected. Law also chose to retain longtime city administrator, Jay Covington, which provides a stable environment for employees to concentrate on their jobs.
Employee comments so far are positive, and Law and Covington produced a coup by stealing longtime Federal Way finance director Iwen Wang.
While there are still a lot of bruised feelings in the community over Law’s defeat of former Mayor Kathy Keolker, he has three and a half years to heal the wounds.
In Tukwila, new Mayor Jim Haggerton hasn’t created much controversy, but there always seems to be a lot just beneath the surface in this city’s politics.
Longtime council member Dennis Robertson’s aggressive style may encourage a more assertive stance from the city council with a new mayor.
Haggerton’s seat on the council was filled by political newcomer DeSean Quinn, who shows promise as a future leader. But Quinn’s day job is working for King County Executive Ron Sims, so how he maneuvers through what could be some awkward county-city situations will also have some bearing on the city political dynamics.
Suburban politics is always interesting, so we’ll get back to them later.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at email@example.com.