Expect a mud-free City Council race

For those of you who wanted Federal Way City Council races with good candidates, political intrigue and some surprises, you won’t be disappointed with this year’s field.

When the dust settled at the end of filing week, Mike Park and Jim Ferrell were unopposed for re-election.

But two council seats will be contested — and will be fun to watch. Each race has candidates with good civic and political resumes.

The biggest surprise was that Renee Maher, who had already won the endorsement of the 30th District Republicans, didn’t file. She had announced in early May. The former legislative candidate had been widely expected to file for the seat being vacated by Dean McColgan.

Maher says she has other options to pursue that will still provide her a way to serve the community. However, her vagueness on her reason for withdrawal led to much community speculation, but no firm conclusion.

Since Maher would have been expected to be one of the two to advance to the November general election, her departure alters the dynamics of the race.

With an impressive record of civic involvement and experience as a council candidate two years ago, Dini Duclos probably emerges as the front-runner for the open seat. She was off to the fastest start with signs out, an organization in place and the endorsement of the police guild within a few days. It’s early, so that could change.

Former council member Hope Elder is active in several civic groups and serves as a chair of the city planning commission. Her previous service on the council gives her an advantage in good name familiarity, but she also got a late start.

Eric Stavney has never run for office before, but has a civic involvement record similar to Duclos and Elder. Like Elder, he is getting a late start and does not have the name familiarity of the other two — although he gained some name recognition with some articles in the Federal Way Mirror during the school district’s "Inconvenient Truth" turmoil.

Very little is known about Troy J. Smith, but if he runs a serious campaign, we’ll find out.

This race will be fun to watch. In fact, the candidates are already having fun as Duclos and Stavney engaged in an impromptu musical duet at the Multi-Service Center’s annual crab feed. Attendees said it was a good thing they were “gonged off” as apparently they are better candidates than singers.

Political intrigue crept into the other contested race as attorney and education activist Roger Freeman decided to challenge incumbent council member Jack Dovey.

While most community speculation had anticipated this match-up, Maher’s withdrawal would have seemed to make the open seat more attractive to Freeman. In a conversation with Freeman, Dovey thought Freeman would opt for the open seat. Ultimately, Freeman filed for Dovey’s seat as most had speculated.

Freeman is a credible candidate, but with two different stints on the City Council covering a decade, Dovey will be a formidable opponent.

You as the reader and voter should see a good-spirited issue-based campaign. These are all good people who will run honest campaigns. What you won’t see is any “mud throwing.” That may make my columns a little more boring than normal, but it’s better for the community.

To all the candidates for City Council, Federal Way School Board or other offices, please send me campaign and fundraiser invitations. I won’t endorse or donate, but I may attend, as it gives me a feel for the race to share with our readers. Plus, I like free food.

Good luck to all of you.

Next week I’ll comment on school board, then special purpose districts, followed by a closer look at individual council and board races.

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

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