As far as Kent mayoral candidate Dana Ralph is concerned, the diverse crowd of well wishers who came to her official campaign kickoff event Thursday represents a foundation, the start of something big.
“We wanted to get out there first, that was the whole thing,” said Ralph, surrounded by supporters at Down Home Catering, the host of the social gathering that attracted local leaders and regional dignitaries, notably state Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn. “We’re a year and half away (from the 2017 election), I understand that, but it’s going to take that long to make the kind of contacts that we want to make.”
Ralph, 44, who is in her fifth year on the City Council, announced on March 7 her bid for mayor, a seat that will become vacant once Suzette Cooke’s third, four-year term ends in December 2017. Cooke has decided not to run for reelection.
Ralph expects another crowd – candidates – to seek the office. She wanted to get the jump, establish and build a campaign devoted to reaching out to as many residents, community leaders and business owners as possible. So far, nobody else has announced plans to run for mayor.
“I’m excited to start things,” she said. “The whole goal is to listen to people to what they need and what they want – to just keep talking to people and meeting people one-on-one.”
The kickoff event attracted supporters of both parties and agencies, an encouraging sign to Ralph for the nonpartisan position.
”We have a good mix and we’re already getting a ton of support. That feels good,” she said. “It feels like this is the right decision. This is my city and I’m going to do whatever I can.”
Ralph, a lifelong Kent resident, served eight years on the city’s Land Use and Planning Board and eight years on the Kent Arts Commission prior to beating Michael Sealfon for a council seat in 2011. She lost a council race against Dennis Higgins in 2009.
Ralph’s endorsement list at danaformayor.com already includes fellow council members Les Thomas and Higgins; Fain; state Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines; former Kent Mayor Jim White; King County Councilmembers Dave Upthegrove, Pete von Reichbauer, Rod Demobowski and Kathy Lambert; Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus; Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier; Covington Mayor Jeff Wagner; Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell; and former Des Moines Mayor Dave Kaplan, now a Des Moines councilman.