When Eric Faison decided not to seek re-election, the Federal Way City Council lost one of its more knowledgeable and respected leaders.
Faison will be hard to replace. But with five candidates filing for the open seat, the voters will have some interesting options as each brings something a little different — although there are also some similarities.
Three of the candidates — David St. John, Lorie Wood and Diana Noble-Gulliford — have local businesses and are all Republican precinct committee officers. Not surprisingly, they have generally similar views. All three support economic development initiatives and strong public safety, oppose tax increases, are fiscally conservative, and have a strong belief in supporting the private sector. Each also has some concerns about how the city should approach capital projects such as the performing arts/conference center.
Diana Noble-Gulliford has been active in the community for 35 years. She served on the community council prior to incorporation, is president of the historical society, and has experience as a member of the city planning commission. She opposed the City Center Access project, would have voted against the city budget because she felt the revenue projections were inflated, and prefers the Burien/Kent station downtown redevelopment approach rather than the high-rise Symphony project. She is a real estate agent and her theme is “Proven Leadership and Community Service.”
David St. John has lived here for 19 years and owns Gents Fine Grooming. He has been active in the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and attended the citizen police academy. He considered running for the council previously. St. John would have opposed Celebration Park and the community center, and likes the idea of a public advisory ballot on the performing arts/conference center. He wants to improve downtown and build a common vision within the community.
Lorie Wood has lived in Federal Way most of her life and owns Beaux Arts Photography. Wood serves on the city’s arts commission. She wants to improve downtown traffic flow, but wasn’t sold on the city access project. She is worried about panhandlers and believes police visibility should be better. Wood also feels taxes are too high, but would like the city to consider a museum as a future capital project. She suggests projects like the community center could have been done by the private sector.
Roger Freeman provides some contrast to the other candidates. Freeman said he was encouraged to run by many Democrats and actually ran for the city council two years go against Jack Dovey. Freeman’s theme is “Your Advocate.” He has lived here for eight years and is managing attorney for a firm involved in public service. He is on the city’s human services commission, is active in the Heritage Leadership Camp and volunteers at Adelaide Elementary School. Freeman wants to look at having a senior center, is worried about unsafe traffic conditions, and would like the city to do more community-based festivals to improve connections between the city’s diverse populations. He would also like the city to have council districts and annual citizen visioning meetings.
Troy Smith continues to be the mystery candidate he was the last time he ran, and we don’t know much about him.
All of the candidates have demonstrated an interest in the community and received encouragement to run from incumbent council members. They are all fiscally cautious in these challenging times and hesitant to offer too many new ideas until the economy improves. Each candidate is going to have to work hard to separate themselves from one another to grab political momentum. Since none are planning to spend more than $5,000 in the primary, that may be difficult. Even though the position is non-partisan, Republicans Noble-Gulliford, St. John and Wood are courting some of the same constituent groups and could be splitting votes, while Freeman (a Democrat) may have a little more of an open field. Voters are going to have to do some homework to decide who they want on the city council, but they do have some good candidates to choose from.
The candidates for judge and city council will be at Federal Way High School from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, in a forum sponsored by the Federal Way Mirror and the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce.