This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
The last time Skip Priest held the office of mayor of Federal Way, in the mid-1990s, it was a ceremonial post and he was elected by fellow City Council members. But he’s equally deserving of having that honor bestowed by Federal Way voters when they elect their first full-time “strong mayor” on Nov. 2.
Priest has a serious challenger in current City Council member Jim Ferrell, who led the successful elected-mayor campaign. A senior King County prosecuting attorney, Ferrell manages the domestic violence court. He likely would do a good job as Federal Way’s first executive, but we think Priest would do better.
Priest has served in the state House of Representatives for the past eight years; he also has corporate and business management experience that would serve him well in running the state’s ninth-largest city and its $40 million budget.
Priest has has gained considerable stature serving Federal Way; his long history in public office began when he ran for the City Council the year after it was incorporated in 1990. He served on the council from 1992 to 1997, playing a role in key early decisions, such as the creation of Federal Way’s police department. He’s been active in the community, with service on the Friends of the Hylebos advisory board, the South King County Multi-Service Center board and the Federal Way School District Construction Oversight Committee.
On the issues, Priest and Ferrell seem on the same page more often than not, supporting public safety as the city’s No. 1 priority and opposing giving developers an extension to buy city land for the proposed three-tower skyscraper project. Whoever is elected will face a daunting challenge: a $9 million budget shortfall over the next two years, which almost certainly will involve staff cutbacks.
Priest has a genial, conciliatory temperament, which would serve him well in selling difficult budget decisions. He’s been a big part of Federal Way’s history, and deserves to lead the city on this next step in its future.