Federal Way political action simmers amid COVID-19

District 30 seats are up for grabs.

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.

Campaigning in an environment dominated by voters’ fear of COVID-19 will be a huge challenge for all candidates.

The candidates can’t really doorbell, hold fundraisers or participate in debates with their opponents. But the opportunity to run for an open legislative seat doesn’t come around very often, so most candidates are using social media and mailings — and will add newspaper advertising when the election gets closer.

Voters in Federal Way will choose from seven candidates to fill two seats in the House of Representatives. Both seats will be filled by candidates that were not on the ballot two years ago, as the incumbent Democratic state representatives for the 30th District are running this year, just not for the jobs they were elected to two years ago.

Former State Rep. Kristine Reeves stepped down to run for the 10th Congressional District vacated by Denny Heck, and current State Rep. Mike Pelliciotti is running for State Treasurer.

But who will replace them? Federal Way City Council member Jesse Johnson was appointed to fill Reeves at position 2. That gave him incumbent status along with one legislative session to learn the ropes. Johnson, a Democrat, helped steer state budget dollars to Federal Way in support of an after-school learning program, cameras for Safe City, FUSION, economic development, an emergency response vessel for South King Fire and Rescue and a young adult drop-in center. Incumbent status means a lot, and Johnson has raised the most money among 30th District candidates at $33,561.

Johnson will be challenged by two very different Republicans. One is perennial candidate Mark Greene.

The other is new candidate Jack Walsh, a local businessman and owns Sub Zero Ice Cream. Walsh led the successful initiative to oppose pot shops in Federal Way. Walsh would like to see more condos, rather than apartments, as an answer to affordable housing. He also wants a review of the Growth Management Act and has been critical of Governor Jay Inslee’s safety first approach to reopening the economy. Walsh has raised $19,024 including $5,000 from the House Republican Committee. Walsh wants to combat homelessness, fully fund education and control state spending. Watch for the differences to emerge between Walsh and Johnson as that is the likely November matchup.

Position 1 is being vacated by Pellicciotti, and we have two seasoned candidates in Federal Way City Council member Martin Moore, who is a Republican, and Democrat Jamila Taylor, who ran for the city council last year. Moore is in his second term on the council and served as former state Rep. Roger Freeman’s legislative assistant. He has supported televising council committee meetings and worked with other council members in support of an initiative last year to support renters. He wants to protect teachers’ jobs and provide tools for student learning. Moore believes the money can be found in the waste of other state agencies. With state revenue down, there may not be much waste in state government this year. Moore has raised $18,371 including $5,000 from the House Republican Committee.

Taylor is an attorney and crime victims advocate. She has worked on preventing youth violence, wants a regional solution to homelessness, equitable access to education and believes education should be fully funded. She supports giving the economy a kick-start with infrastructure projects that will provide family wage jobs. She will oppose taxes on working class families. She is supported by Congressman Adam Smith and State Sen. Claire Wilson, and has raised $24,097.

Another first-time candidate is community volunteer Cheryl Hurst, who will run as a Democrat. Hurst is an active supporter of public schools and believes more balance is needed in funding. She wants our area to have a bigger voice on Sound Transit and would look to other areas for successful solutions for the homeless. She recently announced she was endorsed by the Federal Way Police Officers Guild.

The fourth candidate is newcomer Republican Janis Clark, who has run for the Tacoma City Council, and the state Legislature twice while living in Tacoma. She applied for the Federal Way City Council vacancy when Johnson was appointed to the state Legislature, but was not selected.

Moore and Taylor seem most likely to advance from the Aug. 4 primary.

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

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