If you are considering running for public office in Federal Way this year, your time is growing short. Filing is only two weeks away, but opportunities do remain.
The biggest opportunity is in Position 4 of the Federal Way City Council, held by Jeanne Burbidge for the last two decades. Since her re-election four years ago, most City Hall-watchers have been convinced that she will not seek re-election to her seat. Since running for an open position is more likely to be successful than challenging an incumbent, that belief has guided the decisions of several potential candidates. Fellow Democrats Sharry Edwards and Roger Flygare both wanted to run for the position, but Edwards announced first. That forced Flygare to shift gears and run against incumbent Martin Moore, a Republican, rather than split Democrat votes with Edwards. Other candidates simply dropped out.
However, we still haven’t heard Burbidge make her announcement about running. Burbidge has concentrated most of her energy on making sure the Performing Arts and Events Center gets built. With some recent bad news on the quest for tax credits and financial questions swirling around the PAEC, could Burbidge be reconsidering?
If not, could Edwards walk to a victory unopposed? Edwards has been visible on some causes but has never run for office before and lacks high name recognition. Running unopposed seems very unlikely, but the longer Burbidge holds off making her intentions clear, the harder it will become to organize a campaign.
In Position 2, appointed incumbent Bob Celski is up for election. Celski previously served one term on the council before declining to run for re-election. He was appointed to his current position after Kelly Maloney resigned. He will be opposed by Jesse Johnson. Celski has more campaign experience, higher name identification and active support from Republicans. Johnson works with youth in the Highline School District, has support from Democrats and will connect well with younger voters. He is an articulate political newcomer. Watch this race.
In Position 6, incumbent Moore will be opposed by local businessman Flygare. Moore has a compelling personal story that was helpful in his first election. But it is now four years later, and he has a voting record to defend. Additionally, by switching political parties, he upset local party stalwarts. Recall that he served as an assistant to former Democrat legislator Roger Freeman. After Freeman’s passing, Moore became part of the Democrats for Mark Miloscia after Miloscia switched to the Republican party. Moore then followed Miloscia’s lead by also switching to the Republican party. Council positions are non-partisan in name only. Expect a heavy dose of party activity.
Flygare has run for office several times unsuccessfully. A good independent candidate might want to give this race a second look.
And just to set the likely political tone in advance of filing week: What if another candidate does file for Position 6, Moore’s position, and then Burbidge announces she isn’t running and Moore switches to Burbidge’s Position 4 to take on Edwards?
Or what if Burbidge announces she is running for re-election? Would we see Edwards shift to the Moore-Flygare race? The goal in elections is to win, and these scenarios are possible.
In other races, both municipal court judges, David Larson and Rebecca Robertson, are up for election this year as are School Board positions held by Carol Gregory and Geoffery McAnalloy. Expect all four to run for re-election.
Long-time King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer is also up this year. Some Democrats thought he might step down this year, but that seems very unlikely. His district covers Federal Way and Auburn.
Over at Lakehaven Water and Sewer District, Len Englund has announced he is running for re-election. South King Fire & Rescue Commissioners Mark Thompson and James Fossos are both up for election this year. For those of you who have complained about wanting more independence on the SKFR board, this is your chance.
None of the incumbents at the School Board, Lakehaven or SKFR have any opposition at this time. All three institutions focus on an interesting special public need.
If you like public policy, the special districts are a good training ground.
Now, if Deputy Mayor Burbidge would tell us what she is going to do, we can start finalizing our election score card.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former Auburn mayor and retired public official. He can be reached at email@example.com.