Incumbent Mayor Jim Ferrell recently announced he will run for re-election. Ferrell points to building the Performing Arts and Events Center, a downtown park, a memorandum of understanding with the school district, Highline College and the University of Washington Tacoma to establish a presence in Federal Way, along with the addition of nine police officers over the next two years, as reasons for re-election.
Will Ferrell have any opposition, however, and what issues would they raise? So far, the only candidate to file paperwork is Clifford Mark Greene. Greene has run unsuccessfully for several offices in different states and different cities. He ran for the Federal Way City Council two years ago and for a statewide office last year. He lost both races.
Most speculation centers, however, on local businessman Matthew Jarvis and council member Susan Honda — both of whom could be viable candidates if they can raise enough money and strike the right chord with the public.
Honda was thought to be waiting to run in 2020 when Ferrell finishes his second term. Several others have the same plan, however, and that may have caused her to rethink her timetable. Jarvis’s name is new to the debate. He and his supporters fear for the community’s future and call themselves “Save Federal Way.” Both Jarvis and Honda view Ferrell’s record as flawed and believe many in the community would agree, and given the right circumstances Ferrell could be vulnerable. Jarvis notes that Ferrell did not follow through on giving the public the right to vote on the PAEC and has raised taxes and fees that will need to be raised again in 2019-20 to sustain the police officers. He also believes Ferrell and his staff mishandled the Weyerhaeuser property and that Ferrell’s support for the neighborhood came too late.
Jarvis is well known in the community for his support of many local charities and his passion for education. His group has been looking for candidates to run for mayor and the City Council. Jarvis believes they can raise enough money to be competitive.
Jarvis actually supported Ferrell four years ago when they both opposed the PAEC. Jarvis feels public safety is a higher priority. He feels the new police officers should have been added without a tax and fee increase. He believes this proves his view that the PAEC, directly or indirectly, has caused the tax increase, and had the city not approved the PAEC, money for police would be available. Jarvis feels misled and believes many others do as well. Jarvis has expressed his opinion on several occasions and felt attacked by the mayor and his staff. He believes many residents are fearful of speaking out.
Jarvis has a successful business, however, and putting it on hold for four years to serve as mayor may not be the right move for him, and he will consider his options.
Honda also raised questions along with Ferrell about the PAEC, but they have not appeared to be allies since.
Planning for 2020, however, is affecting this year’s lineup.
Honda seems the most likely of the two to run.
If she waits four years, she will join a pool that could include council members Mark Koppang and Bob Celski. Some of the long-term planning, however, by the three council members seems to forget another possible candidate.
If Ferrell wins this year and runs for another office in 2018 and wins, the mayor’s position would be filled by appointment. And the appointed candidate would have to run in two years. With two or more council members in the picture, appointment of a caretaker seems likely.
What if, however, in four years, current mayoral advisor Steve McNey wants to run for mayor? With former Chief of Staff Brian Wilson out of the picture, McNey has become the defacto No. 2 inside city hall. Who would win a race between Celski, Koppang, Honda and McNey? Some women leaders have urged Chamber of Commerce CEO Becca Martin to consider running. She doesn’t live in the city limits but could move by 2020. The smart move for Honda may be to run now.
The other speculation is, what if Ferrell runs for higher office and loses? A loss would expose political weaknesses should he then need to run for a third term. Could that attract Celski, Koppang, Honda, Martin or even McNey to run? If McNey ran and won, maybe he would hire Ferrell and they could switch jobs!
Coffee shop speculation will continue until candidates start making announcements.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn and retired government official. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.