Elections aren’t done, but candidates thinking ahead

Planning for 2020 state races has been going on for months, as has the maneuvering for the next city and county races in 2021.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.

If you’re a voter suffering from back problems because the political mail is getting too heavy to carry in from the mailbox, you can take a short break. I emphasize “short” because while this election season is over, the planning for 2020 state races has been going on for months, as has the maneuvering for the next city and county races in 2021.

In 2020 we already know most of the incumbents will run to retain their seats now that Gov. Jay Inslee has withdrawn from the presidential race. In the 30th District legislative races, Mike Pellicciotti will run for state treasurer and vacate his position in the House. City Council member Jesse Johnson and Federal Way Chamber of Commerce CEO Becca Martin will run as Democrats. No formal Republican announcements yet. Democratic incumbent House member Kristine Reeves is expected to run again.

For 2021, current incumbent Mayor Jim Ferrell faces some choices. He will be up for election and is likely to have more than one challenger. He could find opponents from many different angles. Depending how the vote totals earlier this week went, we could have more people running for the City Council as well.

But much of the speculation for 2021 has been about the County Council seat currently held by Pete von Reichbauer. Many political watchers speculate he will not run again. They base that on his time in office, and for the last few years, he has been legacy-building.

Like city positions, county positions are officially non-partisan. But von Reichbauer switched from Democrat to Republican several years ago while still a legislator, and Democrats have cast their eyes on that council seat for many years. Ferrell has openly talked about running for his mentor’s seat if he retires. Ferrell switched from Republican to Democrat for his second race with incumbent Mayor Skip Priest, who was a Republican, and Ferrell didn’t want to split the Republican vote again.

Ferrell has claimed to be a Democrat ever since, but many Democrats no longer take that claim seriously. Ferrell will have to choose what to run for, mayor or the County Council. The speculation about von Reichbauer’s retirement has been so open that council member Mark Koppang has been rumored to be planning to run for mayor in anticipation of Ferrell running for the county job. If that happens, Ferrell would have to run in a bigger area, that he is not well known in, and which could attract competitive candidates with their own political base.

If Ferrell runs for the County Council , the mayor’s race could get very crowded.

And von Reichbauer? He isn’t saying anything official yet, but he is not acting like someone planning to retire. And others who have watched him over the years don’t believe he will step down.

If he doesn’t, Ferrell would then have to run for mayor again, which may be harder than he thinks.

And you thought the elections were over? Nope, just time for a short break!

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.

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