In political chess, the game never ends

Somewhere I read, “All the world’s a stage.”

Somewhere I read, “All the world’s a stage.”

In politics, it’s a chess board with thoughtful strategy, feints to draw your opponent’s attention one direction while your target is another, and well-considered moves and countermoves that sacrifice a pawn to take out a bishop.

In chess, the goal is checkmate — game over.

In politics, the game never really ends. Republicans or Democrats temporarily gain enough power to control the policy agenda for a few years, then the other side maneuvers itself back into position and the game goes on. But make no mistake, the moves are there and the game is real.

In King County, Democrats have held most of the reins of power for several years.

Even the solid conservative Eastside is showing a steady movement toward more and more blue patches. But Republicans continue to maneuver for position.

Into this moment come two initiatives that could have long-term effects on what a major Republican player describes as “determining the very relevancy of the Republican party” in this county. The first is a charter amendment that would make the county executive, county council and county assessor non-partisan positions.

This is an idea that has been discussed by leading politicians of both parties and good government groups for decades.

Most of the issues county officials deal with are non-partisan, so the logic of converting the decision makers seems consistent to most.

Politically speaking, the argument “let’s take politics out of county government” makes a great sound bite and resonates with most voters — as the 60 percent primary vote illustrates.

Many good government groups, non-partisan suburban officials and some partisan officials signed on as supporters. Opposition comes primarily from Democrats. Why? Because they are in power, and all county positions would become immediately more competitive if changed.

The way the council districts are arranged as 5-4 Democratic won’t change much for a few years other than inter-party skirmishes, but the real prize, the executive’s office, could be in play for Republicans either next year or the cycle four years later.

Seattle votes overwhelming Democratic, but a well-known moderate Republican becomes more electable if he or she doesn’t have to run as a Republican.

This is a major move on the chess board. A few years ago when the Republicans controlled the executive’s office, the positions were reversed.

The second issue is electing the director of elections, which is currently an appointed position. Although the Elections Department in King County has performed admirably the past several elections, the 2004 governor’s race was very controversial.

With a huge majority in King County, Christine Gregoire was elected by a razor-thin margin. Republicans claimed foul and went to court. They lost, but shrewdly kept the issue alive for four years.

Overall, the goal was to help Dino Rossi in the 2008 rematch by creating public doubt about the legitimacy of Gregoire’s victory.

But the sustained attacks on the department also undermined the credibility of county government and created an environment where a former Republican legislator and others could circulate a citizens’ petition to move the position from being appointed by the executive — currently Democrat Ron Sims — to being elected by the public. The public has shown strong support for this change and the position would be, you guessed it, non-partisan.

If both these issues are passed by the public, which seems a foregone conclusion, the face of King County politics will start to change.

Will it be better? That largely depends on your perspective, but it will be different.

Either way, the chess game in which we are all pawns will continue.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

Federal Way trapped in a ‘Catch 22’

We are mediocre in a region that is rapidly becoming global, educated and economically relevant. We have a mountain to climb.

State of the City

Elections are next year, and with the high profile marketing for the event, the speech always sounds more like a “please vote for me” campaign kick-off.

Welcome to Olympia Mr. Johnson

Sometimes making a law isn’t pretty, and by the time everybody weighs in, that great idea may look completely different.

Mirror’s role in vetting Federal Way Council candidates

The Mirror conducted a background check on all 19 candidates who applied for the Pos. 2 vacancy.

19 want to join Federal Way City Council

The six remaining council members will decide who the new council member will be, and politics will play a role.

South King Fire and Rescue needs to think of public transparency

The “old boy’s club” that is our fire department doesn’t appear all that interested in having the taxpayers, who pay the bill, actually understand what is going.

Exploring Federal Way as a new frontier

Overcoming Federal Way’s general apathy toward exploring itself as a new frontier is essential for shedding the effects of being a hollowed-out corporate company town.

Short legislative session turns left

With a progressive agenda including comprehensive sex education, clean fuel standards and gun violence, Democrats will need to be cautious about overreach.

New state legislator reflects on Federal Way service

“My office and email address may have changed, but my values haven’t.”

Mayor’s style divides Federal Way community

Ferrell’s pattern of behavior is dividing the community in such a negative manner he needs to rethink his entire style if he hopes to be an effective leader.