At the top of the ticket for local elections this year will be the race to replace late Roger Freeman in the state House of Representatives. School board member Carol Gregory was appointed to the position, but to retain the seat she must win the election this November.
But, while the Democrat has been busy in Olympia trying to advance Federal Way’s legislative interests, Republicans have been busy looking for candidates to run against her.
No one was surprised when Federal Way City Councilman Martin Moore was the first to announce his intentions to run for the position, as his ambitions have been widely known. And no one was surprised when Moore switched parties to run as a Republican. However, Republican strategy is to take over the House next year, retain the Senate and have full control of the Legislature going into 2017. Winning the seat here in Federal Way is a key action step in that plan.
Even though recently-elected Republican state Sen. Mark Miloscia is Moore’s mentor, some Republicans have continued to look for another candidate with stronger and longer Republican credentials.
Republicans approached Councilman Bob Celski, but he not only said no to running for the Legislature, he decided not to run for re-election to his council seat. They also tried to recruit Councilwoman Kelly Maloney who did show some interest, but has since chosen to pass up the race. The latest name being circulated is former Advancing Leadership Executive Director Teri Hickel.
Hickel’s name may be unfamiliar to the public at large, but she is well known to most politically active insiders in Federal Way. Advancing Leadership was started by the Federal Way Area Chamber of Commerce many years ago to prepare local residents for community leadership positions.
Advancing Leadership has since established its own base outside the chamber’s umbrella, although Hickel did serve several months as the acting chief executive officer after former CEO Tom Pierson left to take a similar position in Tacoma. She has also been active in citizen committees supporting school bond issues. Hickel’s husband, attorney Tim Hickel, served in the Legislature several years ago.
If Hickel does decide to run, it sets up an interesting battle with Moore for the Republican vote in the district. Republicans spent several weeks maneuvering to avoid Gregory’s appointment for as long as possible so she would have no time prior to the beginning of the legislative session to raise money and seek endorsements.
In our top two format, if both Moore and Hickel are in the race they will have to spend a lot of time and money to try and claim the second position in the general election opposite Gregory. That could undermine the original plan of getting their preferred candidate off to a fast start. Gregory should be the only Democratic candidate and that should allow her to advance to November. Moore has already raised $12,000 toward the race and would have to spend that money trying to defeat Hickel rather than to focus on Gregory.
If Hickel doesn’t run, then Republicans may keep looking for an alternative to Moore.
Cliff Mark Greene of the Revived Citizens Party has also sent in paperwork to run and could take a small amount of votes from all three. While it seems unlikely, even in the byzantine world of politics, Republicans could file a candidate as a Democrat to try and neutralize Gregory’s potential primary vote numbers advantage. Next door in Auburn, several people believe that is exactly what happened there, and it may have helped save incumbent Republican Sen. Pam Roach from defeat.
Two other rumors circulating in local political circles are that Democrat Roger Flygare may be interested in running for the South King Fire and Rescue board of fire commissioners and that former school board member Angela Griffin is being urged to consider returning to the school board.
School Board seats are elected from a district and Griffin stepped down a couple of years ago when she moved out of her district. She now lives in the district of incumbent Claire Wilson. If Griffin does make the race it would be a very interesting match-up.
Democrat Anthony Murrietta has decided to run for the council seat currently held by appointed incumbent Lydia Assefa-Dawson, who announced her bid for re-election this week.
Mark Koppang has already announced his intention to run for the seat being vacated by Bob Celski. Incumbents Susan Honda and Dini Duclos are also running but running against them would be harder.
All candidates want to try and claim a seat before the music stops.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn: firstname.lastname@example.org.