The mill proved a magnet for other settlers. The town site was platted in February 1872.
Duly incorporated, Colfax held its first election for city officials on February 8, 1879. William H. James (1832-1920) won the mayoral election. Councilmen included James Ewart (1832-1915), Dewalt Wolford (b. 1825), Charles D. Porter (b. 1840), Hezikiah Hollingsworth (b. 1842), Leonard T. Bragg (b. 1851), Jacob Hoover (b. 1846), Charles G. Austin (1846-1925), and James A. Perkins. Al Phelps was marshal. The council elected the following officers: Lewis P. Berry (b. 1842), clerk; Jacob Hoover, city attorney, Leon Kuhn (1845-1913), treasurer; Rev. M. S. Anderson, assessor and collector; William Oyster (b. 1852), street commissioner; John G. Porter (b. 1823), health officer.
The Washington Territorial legislature passes the act incorporating the city of Colfax on November 29, 1881. It is unclear why so much time elapsed between the vote to incorporate and the territorial legislature's action. The act appointed certain Colfax citizens to fill important roles in the city's government until an election could be held. Appointees included Jacob H. Bellinger, mayor; Lewis Berry, city assessor and city clerk; Chester H. Warner (b. 1843), David S. Bowman (b. 1828), Hezikiah Hollingsworth, Porter Sullivan (b. 1824), and Julius Lippitt, common council; and John M. P. Snyder (1829-1913), marshal.
On April 6, 1891, following Washington's 1889 statehood, Colfax was reincorporated as a City of the Third Class as defined by state laws. Of 110 ballots cast, 96 were for reincorporation, and two against, with the balance of voters evidently abstaining.