Goodbye, Federal Way | Andy Hobbs

Today is my last day in Federal Way. It’s been a fun ride, and I look forward to the next phase of my career.

After seven-plus years as editor of the Federal Way Mirror, I have accepted another job as a reporter for The Olympian.

Today is my last day in Federal Way. It’s been a fun ride, and I look forward to the next phase of my career.

A community leader recently asked what I thought had changed in Federal Way during the past seven and a half years. The question caught me off-guard because I’m usually the one who asks the questions.

Off the cuff, I answered “nothing,” which is partly true, but deserves a deeper explanation.

The people of Federal Way are just as kind as when I first arrived. I hope that never changes.

Federal Way remains politically, socially and economically diverse — even after the housing market crashed and the Great Recession took its pound of flesh. Businesses opened, closed and left. Overall, downtown Federal Way still looks like downtown Federal Way.

One noticeable change is the increase in suburban poverty. The problem exists nationwide, and Federal Way is a poster child. Service agencies work harder today to help bridge the socioeconomic gaps for this demographic.

One obvious physical change is the Triangle Project, where I-5 meets SR 18 and SR 161. This project has boosted safety and efficiency at one of the state’s busiest interchanges.

The biggest municipal change? The new form of government in Federal Way. Citizens like the idea of electing their mayor. Seven years ago, the so-called establishment opposed such a change. Critics feared that a directly elected mayor would lead to corruption and devastation. Two mayoral elections later, the former system of government is a fading footnote.

Statistically, the population grew by a few thousand people, but annex-happy neighbors like Kent and Renton knocked Federal Way out of the state’s top 10 largest cities.

The school board still makes headlines. Seven years ago, the board caught heat for banning Al Gore’s global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Today, the school board sits in the hot seat over international trips, a complicated grading system, a board member’s legal troubles and a superintendent’s pay raise.

Another thing that hasn’t changed: a small group of citizens is still pushing to build a performing arts center.

As far as politics, Federal Way felt slightly more conservative seven years ago. Perhaps the scales tilted toward Democrats in recent elections. Overall, the city still has a healthy mix of viewpoints.

Back to the main premise — what has changed in Federal Way? Perhaps the better question is, what hasn’t changed?

This relatively young city occupies the same real estate in South King County. The movers and shakers still move and shake city life. Federal Way still struggles with its image and identity in the region. Fortunately, several citizens still believe they can harness Federal Way’s infinite potential and act as a catalyst for positive change. These people need to be cloned.

Moving forward, The Mirror will maintain its commitment to sharing ideas and information while encouraging public discussion. It has been a privilege to work in Federal Way, and your newspaper is in good hands. Please know that I poured my heart and soul into this job, and I did it all for the readers. Thank you for the memories, and thank you for reading.

 


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