King County primary election candidates to watch | Roegner

With the Aug. 3 primary election, the public will narrow the field to the finalists as only the top two advance in each position to the general election. Some are obvious, such as King County Executive, while others may be decided this weekend, including finalists for mayor of Seattle.

In the race for county executive, there hasn’t been much doubt that incumbent Dow Constantine and State Sen. Joe Nguyen would be facing each other in November. As the incumbent, Constantine can create news and recently received the endorsement of the Seattle Times. He has raised the most money with $1.5 million. But this race will get a lot closer over the next few months as Nguyen starts to run to Constantine’s left. Nguyen will look for Seattle Democratic votes by drawing attention to his view of Constantine’s record, as he recently did in a mailer.

The race for mayor of Seattle is harder to predict. Three candidates appear to have separated themselves from the field, according to polling: Bruce Harrell, a former council member who received the Seattle Times endorsement, Council President Lorena Gonzalez, and former Chief Seattle Club director Colleen Echohawk. Each has raised around $400,000 and each has key endorsements. Two others who could surprise are former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell and Andrew Houston, who has raised the about the same amount as the front-runners.

City attorney is an elected position in Seattle. What are Seattle residents most concerned about? Homelessness or how the city has handled the police department? City Attorney Pete Holmes could be in trouble. A poll showed him at 16% to either Anne Davison, who ran for Lt. Governor as a Republican last year, or Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, a public defender, both of whom were at 14%.

In King County Council races, all of the incumbents have received a Times endorsement, but some races will become closer because the conservative wing of the county council of has drawn several challengers.

In council District 3, Kathy Lambert is the incumbent and has over $200,000 to call upon for the campaign. Her likely November opponent is Sarah Perry, who owns a consulting firm and previously worked for Seattle University in development. Joe Cohen is the third person in the race. He worked for Sen. Maria Cantwell and also for the Justice Department. A question in this race is whether the district — one of the fastest growing — has changed enough from rural to urban to elect Perry? And can Perry make a case for “time for a change?”

Districts 1 and 5 have only two candidates and will be decided in November. District 5 incumbent Dave Upthegrove and his opponent Shukri Olow have raised about the same amount of money — $177,000 at this writing — in what insiders believe will be a close race in November.

In District 7, Pete von Reichbauer is the incumbent and has raised almost $200,000. Federal Way City Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson appeared in good position to advance to the general. But some supporters wonder if she has taken the race seriously? She has used signs with her first name that stand out, but they only recently started to surface in Auburn, which is a major part of the of the district. She missed free publicity by not responding to invitations from the Seattle Times and Sound Publishing to interview with the Auburn Reporter and Federal Way Mirror about her candidacy. Saudia Abdullah knows King County, as she works as corrections director in adult/juvenile Detention and has raised more money than Assefa-Dawson. Abdullah now appears likely to advance to November.

In District 9, Reagan Dunn has raised $265,679 and is expected to face Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khanh Van in November. However, it was discovered that another competitor, Ubax Gardheere, had been arrested several years ago for causing a disturbance on a children’s school bus during a mental health episode. That usually will result in the candidate being discounted. Dunn has acknowledged his own DUI issue previously and wished her well.

South King County races

Auburn City Council Position 4 will likely see incumbent Yolanda Trout and challenger Hanan Amer both advance.

The race for mayor of Kent and Kent City Council Position 4 will be decided in November, as will mayor of Federal Way. In Position 6 of the Kent City Council, incumbent Brenda Fincher is the front-runner.

Federal Way City Council Position 4 is held by Hoang Tran. He and Katherine Festa are most likely to advance. Festa has outraised the incumbent, but that will change closer to November. The third candidate, Daniel Miller, hasn’t raised any money. Federal Way City Council Position 5 between incumbent Leandra Craft and challenger Jack Walsh will be decided in November, as will Position 2 between incumbent Greg Baruso and Erica Norton.

In Federal Way City Council Position 6 are four candidates: incumbent Martin Moore, who has raised the most money; former councilmember Jack Dovey, who was a councilmember when the city had the council-manager form of government; along with Adrienne Obregon and Renae Seam. Moore ran for the Legislature last year as an independent Republican. Dovey has been endorsed by mainstream Republicans. Moore and Dovey are the most well known of the group. Will both advance, or will they split the vote? If they split the vote, Renae Seam, who has been endorsed by King County Democrats, is the most likely to benefit.

In Renton City Council Position 1, Joe Todd and James Alberson are likely to advance to November. In Position 2 with four candidates, incumbent Angelina Benedetti has raised $18,863 with challenger Carmen Rivera at $23,050. Both appear to be the strongest and will advance.

School board races tend to be more low key than city races, but this year, both Federal Way and Kent have races worth following.

Kent School Board Position 4 has four candidates, but no one has raised much money. Awale Farah is a board member of Communities in Schools, which positions him with knowledge of the district. In Position 5, Tim Clark is the front-runner and was formerly a Kent School Board member and Kent City Council member. He also served on the board of Green River College and was a teacher for many years.

Federal Way is going through a superintendent change from Tammy Campbell to Danielle Pfeiffer, who has been the deputy superintendent for several years. She shares Campbell’s belief that every student has unlimited potential and that it is the board and superintendent’s job to create a welcoming, equitable and inclusive environment to ensure student success. They are committed to keeping students in the classrooms where they can learn.

Incumbent Federal Way School Board member Trudy Davis shares their commitment to student success. However, the other candidates in Position 4 have caused some concern because they appear to have their own agendas. Janis Clark has run for the Legislature from Tacoma more than once, and from Federal Way, and now wants to be elected to the school board. The Tacoma News Tribune withdrew an endorsement of her for another board after it learned of her military legal problems. Jim Storvick has expressed his disagreement with the school board for elevating Pfeiffer to superintendent. But the school board operates as a team with the superintendent, and Storvick has been critical of the very board he wants to join, even though the board’s priority was to maintain continuity of strong leadership and consistency for the district’s 23,000 students and 3,000 staff, rather than disrupt the system with a search for new superintendent. Jenny Gallagher has also expressed disagreement, but not her ideas for improvement.

The other board position up this year is to replace current Board President Geoffery McAnalloy. The two candidates for Position 1 are much different, but may have an impact on the tone and policies of the board. Voters should follow them closely.

Tiffany LaFontaine has two children in Federal Way Public Schools and has served in many PTSA positions, including her current position as president of Nautilus PTSA. She is a pre-K teacher at a private school in Federal Way. She is active in her church and with Girl Scouts and the Native American Parents Advisory Committee. She is supportive of the lessons learned from COVID and the inequities in our schools and wants to “meet every student where they are ” and ensure technology is available to them. She believes students need computer skills and access to computers. She created a petition to Gov. Jay Inslee to allow teachers to be vaccinated before returning to the campus and was able to present it to the governor’s staff. Her opponent is Quentin Morris, who projects business knowledge, has an engineering background and is retired from Boeing. He has been critical of the school district. His literature makes broad statements critical of the board, but lacks the detail to determine his goals. He mentioned making improvements in English and math, but this is one of the most diverse districts in the state with over 120 different languages spoken in homes throughout the district. Some households don’t have computers, or access to the internet, and rely on the district’s support.

Many use the meal program. Though a bright and articulate candidate, Morris does not have children in Federal Way schools and may lack the investment to student success that LaFontaine brings the district. Morris needs to be more clear about his goals for the district and how he would work with the superintendent and other board members. This position will be decided in November.

Voters will find their mailbox full of campaign literature in the closing days of the primary. Do your homework, voters. The health of your schools, city government and special purpose districts depend on your choices.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact