King County Council Candidates Face-Off At League Of Women Voters Forum
All four candidates vying to represent District 8, which includes Burien and North Highline, on the King County Council met in their last scheduled pre-primary face-off at Seattle First Baptist Church on Aug. 5.
The primary election forum, sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Seattle will be broadcast on King County TV, cable Channel 22. Check KCTV at the county website – kingcounty.gov – for program times.
Considered a pivotal race that could change the complexion of the County Council, the top two finishers in this non-partisan field of Tim Fahey, Joe McDermott, Shawn McEvoy and Diana Toledo will advance from the Aug. 17 primary to November’s general election.
[Note: Candidate comments appear below in the pre-determined order they answered the questions, which are paraphrased from the original wording.]
What is your position on the proposed King County sales tax increase of 0.2 cents per dollar to avoid cutting sheriff’s deputies, prosecuting attorneys, and a new juvenile justice facility? (Note: Half of the tax would be scheduled to expire after three years; the remainder would stay on the books for 20 years to pay for the juvenile facility.)
McEvoy: “I’m not a big fan of raising taxes, but I will vote for it reluctantly … with my nose plugged … I think it stinks.” He committed to voting for the measure after talking with Sheriff Sue Rahr and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, who said told him it is needed to avoid sharp cuts in public safety services.
Toledo: “I oppose this tax.” Public safety is the county’s top priority and “we can find money within the existing budget without raising taxes … this recession is not the right time to raise taxes” Some people in county government who aren’t qualified earn six-figure salaries and care only about collecting their paychecks. “First look within the budget we have.”
McDermott: Innovative programs like drug courts “that turn people’s lives around … would be the first to go in this round of cuts. Sixty sheriff’s [deputies] and 12 prosecutors would be laid off. This is only 2 cents on a $10 purchase … I will vote for it.”
Fahey: “I’m not in favor of the tax increase.” Several deputies have told him “there are plenty of places where savings can be found” in the sheriff’s office budget. “There is so much waste” throughout county government, why do they “always start cuts in my community?” In White Center and Boulevard Park?
What is your view on privatization of county services?
Toledo: Having worked with King County for so long … I’ve seen some of the benefits of privatization,” like private management of the county’s parking garage. “Good places to start” privatizing services can be found in any part of the county “where people are passionate to help.”
McDermott: “Of course there are important roles for privatization.” Some services can be provided better by government – people “coming together collectively” – and some provided better through privatization. The garage “with private management is a good example,” but public transit is done better by government.
Fahey: “Privatization in the current political climate seems to be a poison pill.” Yet there are some “functions of King County that never should have been made part of government in the first place.” Some social services could be privatized. “We must stand up and use our hearts because government can’t do it” and give tax dollars to private service providers.
McEvoy: Efficiencies can be achieved with privatization … one area is transit” with the use of smaller busses and shuttle vans by private operators. The West Seattle water taxi is an example of “how inefficient government can be. It costs three times more to operate under the county than when it was run by Argosy.”
How will your background help you on the King County Council?
McDermott: He served in the Legislature from 2000 to 2010 “when difficult decisions needed to be made.” This year “I voted for furloughs for state employees” and for funding cuts that resulted in layoffs for others. “I did support new revenue, including a tax on candy, gum and bottled water” that will benefit schools and teachers around the state.
Fahey: He has been an employee, run his own business, “and succeeded and failed … and as a carpenter I know how to build things and I know how to fix things, and I can find problems and rectify them … As a businessman I can recognize what business needs and help business grow.”
McEvoy: As the owner of two small businesses, “I know the pitfalls and rewards of small business ownership.” He is also a member of the South King County Economic Development Partnership and the Highline Forum, which encourage “small business growth, job opportunities, public/private partnerships, and less regulation, not more.”
Toledo: “I’ve seen first-hand how overregulation affects people … a small business owner in my community who no longer sells certain products based on the cost of increased taxes.” Unsustainable budgets passed by “career politicians,” taxes and regulations have impacts “we overlook” on those “who can least afford it” like senior citizens being taxed out of their homes.”
[Photo of King County Council candidates by Michael Brunk, taken at The B-Town Blog’s July 20th Forum.]