UPDATE: County Council Candidates Focus On Differences At B-Town Blog Forum (w/Audio)

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Diana Toledo, left, faced off against Joe McDermott in Tuesday night's B-Town Blog Candidates Forum. Photo by Michael Brunk.

by Ralph Nichols

[REPORTER’S NOTE: Writing on the fast-paced exchanges of a candidates’ forum presents a challenge in conveying what they say with accuracy and balance. Therefore, many answers are paraphrased to ensure fairness to both participants. Candidate responses are presented generally in the order they answered questions. To hear their full remarks in context, you can listen to the debate in its entirety by clicking on the “Play” button of the MP3 file below:]


Voters were presented with a clear contrast between candidates Joe McDermott and Diana Toledo, who are running for election to the King County Council from District 8, at a Sept. 28 forum sponsored by the B-Town Blog.

McDermott, a liberal Democrat and former state senator from the 34th Legislative District, pointed with pride to his party affiliation and support from labor unions.

Toledo, a moderate conservative whose election would alter the balance on the King County Council, spoke with equal pride about not having to answer to either party or union supporters.

Both candidates are from West Seattle. King County Council District 8 also includes Burien, North Highline, Vashon and Maury Islands.

“People can expect that I will manage King County [which faces a $60 billion revenue shortfall next year] well, based on my record and experience,” McDermott said.

He referred to his experience in the Senate during the past two sessions, where he was forced to make “painful” decisions that resulted in “tough” cuts in programs and the layoffs of state employees.

“The question of where the money for my campaign comes from is a great one,” Toledo countered. Her contributions come “from people I’ve worked with … to make [county programs run smoothly and effectively.”

She said managing and balancing the county budget responsibly through a non-partisan approach are her top priorities.

Asked what her individual leadership style on the nine-member county council would be, Toledo said she would “focus on people and focus on principles, not on party caucuses.”

Although council members are elected on a nonpartisan ballot, they still hold separate Democrat and Republican caucuses.

“In King County, problems are not Democrat problems. They are not Republican problems … they are community problems.”

McDermott said he would “bring my collaborative style” of working with people from both parties in the Legislature to the county council.

Noting that he and King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, a Republican, worked well together in the House when he was a state representative, McDermott added that he also worked collaboratively with legislators from throughout the region.

That’s why people can count on him to work effectively for King County, he added.

McDermott called the 2011 budget proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine on Sept. 27 “a responsible budget given the deficit the county is facing.”

Because the county can’t afford to lose deputies and other law enforcement services, which would result under cuts proposed by Constantine, McDermott said he supports the proposed 0.2 cent county sales tax increase for public safety on the November 2 ballot.

But, said Toledo, “I don’t believe we can afford to lose people on the streets … I heard a deputy say there’s a cheaper way” to run the sheriff’s office and provide other services.

“We need to take a closer look” at finding efficiencies. “We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the taxpayers” – and “we may have to reopen union contracts,” she said.

Both candidates indicated they would support the transfer of 0.2 percent of local sales tax revenue from Metro Transit to help pay for deputies and other public safety needs and avoid the threatened layoffs.

And they favor an investigation into Metro Transit to determine what happened with sales tax increases approved by voters in 2004 and 2006 to provide more than 1million hours of new bus service annually – much of it targeted for underserved south King County

A Washington Policy Center study released in July found, however, that since the sales tax hikes bus service had increased by fewer than 400,000 hours, while much of the additional revenue had gone to driver salary increases.

In addition, they both noted that King County is not served well by Metro Transit – and even as bus service is reduced alternatives must be found to meet the needs of south county commuters.

McDermott called cuts in funding for human services, which “have been dire over the past few years, a travesty. For people who receive those services … those are core services. We need to find money for them. That’s why I support Proposition 1” – the sales tax ballot measure.

Toledo disagreed with his bottom line: “The question is how to help people get jobs. Raising taxes in a recession is not the answer.” And, “as a former regulator to say we’re over-regulated, I know what I’m talking about.”

Her first major initiative as a council member would be “to make this a truly non-partisan council. But, she stressed, “I cannot approve with good conscience any sales tax increase.”

McDermott’s first initiative would be “to work with all eight of my colleagues.” Although the seat is non-partisan, “I am proud to be a Democrat. I won’t leave my values at home when I go to work in the morning.”

In his concluding remarks, McDermott said he is “very proud to be the only candidate in this race to be voted ‘outstanding’ by the Municipal League” and to be endorsed by legislators throughout this region.

“I’m going up against the political machine,” Toledo said. “I’m running a grass roots campaign … supported by people just like us who saw the status quo is not working. I stand for working class people … it’s not about policies, it’s about principle.”

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7 Responses to “UPDATE: County Council Candidates Focus On Differences At B-Town Blog Forum (w/Audio)”
  1. Gus says:

    This is about the umpteenth time I’ve seen that Washington Policy Center study quoted. The study is utter bunk – it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. There are several blogs that tear it to shreds on a figure by figure basis.

    And the Washington Policy Center which claims to be a *non-partisan* organization is highly slanted. Start with the fact that its entire board is not just Republican but very decidedly far-right Republitron. It’s disgusting to watch these pundits dupe the media and the public into supporting their campaign to reinforce economic injustice and the destructive money-to-the-top drain that is very much destroying the future of the country and by ecological extension the planet.

    Do the math, really look at the numbers, and you’ll find that the situation with Metro (however ridiculously flawed that agency is) is not the result of driver salaries. For one thing a lot of that additional service never materialized because of a little war and a few disasters and a subsequent massive increase in energy costs.

    Anyway I would beg people and especially bloggers and journalists to stop taking things at face value. Stop listening to the noise and the manipulation and find the actual facts – last time I checked real facts don’t have an agenda.

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    • Julie says:

      OK Gus, I’ll bite. Our *war for oil* caused the “rise in energy prices”? Hmmmm….

      Both candidates agreed on the transit issues, anway, including funding them.

      It’s not enough to say service just “never materialized” and blame it on Bush/rightys (war for oil and all that) – both candidates also agreed South King County should be better served by efficent and accountable transit agency. That was a fact without an agenda.

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  2. feral dog says:

    I don`t follow politics much, never seemed to matter much which side you were on or which stance you took, the outcome was always going to be what they wanted anyways
    regardless of if the people of voted for or against. But I did just read this article and I was just wondering what that gal means when she says ..
    Raising taxes in a recession is not the answer.” And, “as a former regulator to say we’re over-regulated, I know what I’m talking about.”. Hmmmmm, as a former regulator I know what I`m talking about…So, does this mean it was okay when she was a regulator but now that she`s not its not okay? Getting a headache,, maybe I best just go back to my mat and leave this kind of stuff up to a higher species,, and that`s not a cat,,*grrr*
    Hey, after reading this, I just got to thinkin

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    • VoteNowPlease says:

      I’ve watched every forum. Diana Toledo was a regulator who lost her job after 15 years because she was a “whistle-blower” on waste, mismanagement, and corruption. So to answer your question, I would say “no, she did not think it was okay.” She saw a broken system and is now trying to change it by running for KC Council.

      She is also not a union hater. While at the County she was a union member, several members of her family are union members. She has stated at every forum that she supports the unions. What she has said is that we need to engage the unions. Looking at opening contracts in this economy, which might actually save union jobs (what’s better, 5 employees making 100hr or 6 employees making 85hr). She is not endorsed by the big Unions, because just as with her refusing to join a party, she is interested in looking at all the facts and then doing what is best for everyone.

      I hope that helps.

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  3. feral dog says:

    Hmm, must have pawed the wrong key,, that was weird.. but,, getting back to it,
    I just got to thinkin`, after reading that Mac was a supporter of unions I guess that means that union hating coverofnight (grrr) is going to vote for Toledo?? (ever notice if you take the first letters from his moniker is spells CON?? hehehehehe)
    What happens if her stance changes and she realizes that in order to get some things accomplished as a council member that means going to the unions and asking them for help or at least having to talk to them? Is she willing to swallow her pride or is she maybe painting herself into a corner. I`m just wonderin`.. Enough politics for me,,, *woof*

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  4. Michaelpowsley says:

    There are clear differences to anyone listing to the audio or viewing the videos posted on Youtube such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3StCKY8r-A.

    @Feral Dog – Diana Toledo blew the whistle on corruption, negligence, and malice at the County. She did in fact lose her job because she would not go-along-to-get-along with a broken system. What makes you think she was okay with the regulations?

    Also, while at the county Diana was in the union. And yes, several of her family members are currently Union members. She has said throughout the debate that she supports the unions, but in this economy we should be reaching out to union leadership. She believes in negotiating with the union, but not taking marching orders from them.

    Go Toledo!

    Here’s a few clips of the debate that make plain the differences in the candidates.

    Alternatives to slash-or-tax funding.

    Reducing unemployment:

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  5. slbewing says:

    I support Joe McDermott because he has demonstrated his abilities to stand up for the working class constituents in his district as a legislator and I look forward to seeing that kind of representation for the entire 8th District. I’ve seen how Senator McDermott’s principles are represented, how he helps to develop policy by working with both Democrats and Republicans, and I appreciate his understanding of how those policies affect us in reality. Senator McDermott has demonstrated an ability to provide leadership, not just simplistic soundbites. Go Joe!

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