In his quest to unseat Dini Duclos from her hold on Position 7 of the City Council, P.K.Thumbi might feel a little more like Don Quixote tilting at windmills than a political candidate.
Duclos is a veteran council member, who is running for a third term. She is a former executive director of the Multi-Service Center and is a past chairwoman of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce.
She has lived in Federal Way for 14 years, is well known and, with two terms under her belt, she has the experience that Thumbi lacks. And while her colleagues say she is sometimes less than diplomatic, she understands city issues and government better than most. Her Municipal League rating was “Outstanding.” She is a formidable incumbent and will be hard to beat.
Thumbi moved here in 2012 and works at Western State Hospital as a mental health technician. This is Thumbi’s first run for public office but he is not new to politics. As a Republican precinct committee officer, he has worked on the campaigns of Republicans Sen. Mark Miloscia, Rep. Linda Kochmar and former Councilwoman Diana Noble-Gulliford.
Miloscia and Noble-Gulliford have endorsed him, along with Lakehaven Utility commissioner Len Englund. However, the Republicans appear split on the race, as Tim and Teri Hickel, former Mayor Skip Priest, Sen. Joe Fain, County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer and the King County Republican Party have endorsed Duclos. Duclos has also received some Democratic support in Federal Way from Mayor Jim Ferrell, County Assessor Lloyd Hara and former Democratic state Senate candidate Shari Song.
Duclos has been a supporter of the Performing Arts and Events Center, open spaces, public safety and parks and recreation programs. She would like to ensure that the city establishes good financial policies for the future.
She would be reluctant to consider a $15 an hour minimum wage at this time and voted for the moratorium on retail marijuana shops in Federal Way.
She, along with other council members, has agreed to abide by the voters’ will on the advisory vote in November. She would like to see a regional solution to the homeless day shelter challenge.
Thumbi came to the United States from Kenya to further his education. He is running because he believes that two terms on the City Council are enough and that Duclos has had her turn.
He believes new leadership is needed for the changing diversity of the community.
He shares the same view as Duclos on the $15 hour minimum wage issue but might be more comfortable if it were phased in over five to 15 years.
Thumbi supports the Performing Arts and Events Center but was vague about his comfort with the financing plan without the tax credits, and how he would have voted had he been on the council.
He believes we need a resource desk at City Hall to help growing business.
He supports the need for a hygiene center for the homeless, and would like to see community groups bid on providing counseling services for people in the court system. His Municipal League rating was “Good.”
Both candidates expect to raise and spend $12-14,000 on the race. Duclos has cash and in-kind contributions of almost $12,000, including a $4,500 loan from herself to her campaign. If needed, she can raise more.
Despite his participation in a few campaigns, Thumbi is not particularly well known to the general public and may have trouble raising the funds he needs.
Incumbents can afford to wait to get serious about the campaign. First-time candidates can’t.
Thumbi may have waited too long to get his campaign in high gear, as time for door-belling and money for mailings and newspaper ads are crucial.
To beat Duclos, Thumbi should have started many months ago. He also needs to be able to offer solid policy reasons on why the public should choose him over a well-known incumbent.
So far, their positions on most issues are pretty similar. That suggests Thumbi hasn’t done the necessary research on her voting record or he would be articulating the differences between them, not the similarities.
He also lacks Duclos’s knowledge of how government works and, in some cases, what it is currently doing.
Thumbi talks of bold leadership but needs to define for the public how that translates to action. Duclos has to be considered the front runner until Thumbi shows what people would gain by voting for him.
But the two highest profile debates are coming soon. The Mirror and the Chamber of Commerce debates are scheduled in October and will give the challengers the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.
The publicity, both media and word of mouth, from those two events can make a significant difference in the eventual outcome.
Duclos is a known quantity and has been elected twice. Can Thumbi offer a realistic alternative?
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn: email@example.com.