City council candidates eye the prize | Bob Roegner

There are three seats on the Federal Way City Council up for election this year. Incumbents Jeanne Burbidge and Linda Kochmar are being challenged by Mike Peterson and Sonia Sciscente, respectfully. The two finalists for Eric Faison’s vacated seat are Roger Freeman and Diana Noble-Gulliford.

Freeman is the managing attorney for law firm Society of Counsel, providing public defense. He serves on the city’s Human Services Commission and is also active in the school district as a youth mentor. He ran for the city council two years ago and picked up valuable campaign experience. Freeman came out of the primary as the leading vote getter. But the vote distribution suggests his opponent, Noble-Gulliford, could actually be the front-runner.

Noble-Gulliford is involved in real estate, is president of the Historical Society of Federal Way and served on the community council prior to the city’s incorporation. She also serves on the city planning commission.

Both candidates received a “Very Good” rating from the Municipal League. That rating is justified, as either candidate would do a good job on the council. Noble-Gulliford probably has the edge in name familiarity. The Planning Commission is also a good training ground for the many land use issues the council will face.

Longtime council member Jeanne Burbidge is being challenged by political newcomer Mike Peterson. Burbidge received an “Outstanding” from the Municipal League and Peterson received a “Good” rating. Peterson works as a media channel sales manager. Burbidge held her campaign kickoff several weeks ago and can easily raise enough money for her race. She can point to many accomplishments while in office, and has the endorsement of many of the community and political leaders.

Peterson sees himself as a small business advocate. He doesn’t think a performing arts and conference center is a priority, and he wants more public safety emphasis. He expects to doorbell and send out one or two mailings. Peterson recognizes beating Burbidge won’t be easy, but feels he will bring a new perspective. He’s right. Beating Burbidge won’t be easy. She is well-respected in the community, is a former mayor and knows how to campaign. Peterson will have to strike a political chord and outwork her if he is to be successful.

The third seat in play is held by Linda Kochmar, who has been elected three times and received a “Very Good” rating from the Municipal League. Kochmar is a risk manager for Lakehaven Utility District. Like Burbidge, she started her campaign early, has many of the same endorsements and also will be hard to beat.

First-time candidate Sonia Sciscente lives in the Steel Lake area and was attracted to the race because of her frustration with the activities she sees at Steel Lake Park. She wants a stronger police presence and opposed the City Center Access project, which the council eventually turned down. She received a “Good” rating from the Municipal League.

Both Burbidge and Kochmar as seasoned campaigners — and started their races as if they had a primary. First-time candidates Peterson and Sciscente didn’t start the public portion of their campaigns until much later. They also may not have the budget or the name familiarity to catch the two incumbents.

Today, the candidates get their chance to make their case at the monthly Federal Way Chamber of Commerce luncheon. You can read about it in Saturday’s Mirror. In the closing weeks of the campaign, watch for the depth of the candidates’ responses and whether they have actually done their homework on city issues.