It wasn’t a surprise that Federal Way City Council candidate Susan Honda came out of the primary leading three other contenders. Or that Roger Flygare finished second. The surprise was the margin.
Honda’s almost 48 percent surpassed the combined totals of the next two finishers. Flygare was at 22.5 percent and Mark Koppang was at 20.5 percent. Late arriving ballots seem to favor Flygare.
With about a 23 percent turnout at press time, Federal Way was 4 percent below the countywide total. The low turnout likely helped Honda, as she was the better known of the candidates.
From the beginning, Honda’s campaign has appeared to be the most organized. She has benefited from years of civic involvement and City Hall contacts.
Heading into November, Honda has significant momentum and will likely steer a safe non-controversial course. She can almost run an “incumbent” style race by staying above the fray and avoiding any costly mistakes.
Flygare almost has to “create the fray” to have any hopes of catching Honda, and will have to step up his campaign. The large margin will force him to try and draw clear distinctions between himself and Honda on issues that matter to Federal Way voters. Additional advertising, mailings and doorbelling are necessary. Another low turnout is expected, and Flygare and Honda will need to identify likely voters. Flygare is aligned with the Democrats and will need a big turnout from them.
Koppang’s supporters are up for grabs, but they will likely split, possibly tilting Honda’s way. The fourth candidate, Scott Sparling, finished fourth with 8 percent. That is actually a decent number given his minimal campaign effort. They are likely anti-status quo voters who will go to Flygare.
Flygare will need to pick up key endorsements and know how to use them to help offset his Municipal League rating of adequate.
The primary was the “beauty contest” where name familiarity made a big difference. Now both will receive closer scrutiny and need to demonstrate a stronger command of city issues.
In the Federal Way School Board contest, Liz Drake carried 48 percent of the vote to Danny Peterson’s 36 percent. Carrie BeSerra finished with about 16 percent and was eliminated.
Drake and Peterson provide voters with two good options. Both have experience, background and passion for schools and education.
Both are articulate and know their subject. Neither has run for office before and neither is perceived as a “political” candidate. Drake’s 12 percent margin is comfortable, but not insurmountable. This still shapes up as a close race. Each will try and demonstrate in a positive way why they are the best candidate, and at this point, the differences are not as clear to the voting public as the candidates will need to make them.
Which candidate best reflects your view of the type of education you want for your children? Which candidate has the fortitude to confront the difficult issues and stay the course when opposition surfaces? These and many other questions need to be answered for the public to decide.
There is a public debate for council candidates on Oct. 5. Candidates for school board, Lakehaven Utility District and South King Fire and Rescue are scheduled for Oct. 12. Try and attend, and do your homework. It’s important.