Up until now, the election focus has been on reducing the field of candidates through the primary process. Races for King County Executive, the Federal Way City Council and Federal Way judge had large candidate fields that needed to be sorted out. But patiently waiting in the wings have been candidates who did not have a primary. The county-wide undercard to the Executive race is the race for County Assessor.
Former Assessor Scott Noble resigned after the deadline to establish a primary, so it will be a winner-take-all election in November.
Former Seattle Treasurer and current Port Commissioner Lloyd Hara was out early and is the front-runner. Hara is well known in Democratic politics, has run successfully county-wide and has a good management background.
The other leading candidate was Chief Deputy Assessor Rich Medved. Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke and is not in the race. However, Bob Rosenberger, one of his campaign workers, did file. Rosenberger previously worked in the assessor’s office as an appraiser but recently retired.
Rosenberger ran unsuccessfully for assessor several years ago, so he has campaign experience but no management experience. Accountant Bob Blanchard, private appraiser Graham Albertini and former state senator Gene Lux also filed.
Despite its low key nature and minimal political visibility, the assessor is an important job with a significant impact on the public. The winner will serve out the remaining two years on Noble’s unexpired term.
In Kent, incumbent Mayor Suzette Cooke is being challenged by well known businessman Jim Berrios.
Cooke’s husband recently committed suicide, which added a tragic and emotional element to the race. Berrios is a formidable candidate and this shapes up as the race to watch in the valley cities.
In Federal Way, council incumbents Jeanne Burbidge and Linda Kochmar held re-election kickoffs several weeks ago and have been campaigning steadily ever since. Mike Peterson will challenge Burbidge and Sonia Sciscente is running against Kochmar. With the primary season over, these two races will increase in visibility. But Peterson and Sciscente have a lot of work in front of them if they want to make these races competitive.
Another local race is the second position in the Federal Way Municipal Court. Appointed incumbent judge David Larson is running for election. Larson, who previously served on the school board, has had his own history of controversy, but is well known in the community and will be hard to beat.
He is being challenged by Renee Walls, who is an experienced prosecutor. Walls will have to work hard to overcome Larson’s name familiarity and community connections.
Two positions on the Federal Way School Board are contested. Appointed incumbent Angela Griffin is being challenged by Steve Skipper, and longtime board member Ed Barney has Bill Pirkle as an opponent. The board has not had any controversy, so the incumbents have the advantage.
And in a déjà vu moment, the issue of changing Federal Way’s form of government will be back on the ballot.
We’ll take a closer look at these races and others over the next few weeks. But do your homework – the winners will have a big impact on the governments that serve you.