The political structure in Federal Way is apparently about to undergo a significant change as two well-known public officials will not seek re-election.
The biggest news is that longtime city council member Mike Park will announce at Tuesday night’s council meeting that he will step down from the council seat he has held for 16 years. Park is considered one of the council’s more knowledgeable members on finance and government operations, and he also served as mayor. As a leader in the Korean community, he ensured that their voices were heard during council deliberations.
Speculation that Park would not seek another term had increased over the past few weeks, and two candidates had already announced campaigns for Park’s council seat.
Roger Flygare was the first to jump in, and he was followed by Susan Honda.
Bob Celski will run for Jack Dovey’s council seat. And, Keith Tyler recently announced he would run for the position currently held by Dini Duclos. Community activist Nancy Combs has told people she is considering a run as well. None of the positions would have a primary race at this time. Although if Combs runs, that could change. There is the possibility that other potential candidates will look at the field and decide it is worth a try.
It is too early to establish a betting line on the Flygare-Honda matchup, although both have their supporters, so we will watch how they set up their campaigns.
Tyler would appear to have an uphill battle to defeat incumbent Duclos, but he has been active in the Democratic party, which will give him a base of support. Duclos has generally avoided partisan affiliation and had both Democrats and Republicans at her campaign kickoff.
Celski and his family are well known in the community. There has been speculation about whether he would challenge Dovey or Jim Ferrell. Ferrell is considered the strongest of the incumbents. At press time, he did not have an opponent. Dovey has served on the city council on two different occasions and is a seasoned campaigner. This is Celski’s first run for public office.
The second big surprise is that Amye Bronson-Doherty will not run for re-election to the Federal Way School Board. Bronson-Doherty serves as vice-chair of the board and has exhibited the ability to potentially be a candidate for higher office if she were interested. Her departure, along with that of incumbent Suzanne Smith, will add two new faces to the school board at a time when veteran leadership might have been desirable.
Carrie BeSerra and Danny Peterson have announced their intention to seek Bronson-Doherty’s seat. BeSerra and Peterson are newcomers to elective office, so this race will start out even. Gail Crabtree has already announced for Smith’s seat. School Board President Tony Moore will run for re-election and does not as yet have an opponent.
An interesting undercurrent in both the council and school board races is that many of the incumbents, and some of the new candidates, are affiliated with the Republican party — although few are likely to be partisan in their approach to governing. Democrats have not been quite as involved in local races in the past few years. But this year, they have been actively recruiting candidates for the city council for several months in an apparent attempt to even the political playing field and build a better base.
With this many first-time candidates, it will be interesting to see how each approaches fundraising, endorsements, their opponents and how much preparation they put into the responsibility they want to undertake.