Diana Toledo Will Stay In County Council Race Even If It Means Running Again Next Year
by Jack Mayne
Diana Toledo says no matter what happens in her race for King County Council against retiring State Senator Joe McDermott, she will be on the ballot next year when the position is up for a full four-year term.
“I will either be running for reelection or I will be running for election, you heard it here first,” says the feisty 38-year-old political neophyte.
Her 15 years on the King County payroll included working in the regulatory licensing department and later with county taxicab licensing and elections, then was brought in to assist with problems in the county animal regulation division, she says.
During a period of turmoil in the general area of licensing and permits, Toledo says her county licensing regulation division was largely ignored by her superiors, leaving her in effective charge. When she was brought into the animal welfare division, she again says her superiors downplayed the problems she was intent in getting fixed.
Then Toledo went on maternity leave, but as she was about to return to work, she says she was told not to come back in an e-mail from superiors. She maintains the county would not even allow her to come into the office to get her personal belongings, which were sent to her several weeks later.
She says she decided to take the “high road” and to run for the King County Council rather than bring a lawsuit in Superior Court seeking her job back.
“I could have left (for other jobs) and made a lot of money, but I love King County and I knew I made a difference every day on the job,” Toledo says.
“When I lost my job, people asked me if I was angry,” she says. “The truth is I am not angry, I am not bitter about it, because the truth is I could have kept my job (but) I was raising concerns brought to me by our front-line staff.” She believes she could have kept her job by not pushing those complaints and problems up to her bosses.
She also says she did not file for the County Council job because of Joe McDermott, the other candidate for the job.
“I did not follow politics, I was too busy raising a family and working full-time,” she says. “I am running to raise awareness for the reforms that were needed in King County government. It is a broken system, it is grossly mismanaged and we need to eliminate the waste and inefficiency that exists.”
“When Dow (Constantine) was running on those platforms, I was for him 100 percent because I knew that what was needed.”
She says her opponent, McDermott, has been in the Legislature for 10 years “and when has he shown any real leadership? What has he championed? He has voted party line. And he is (running) because it will triple his salary (from that of a part-time state senator).”
She says she would foster more togetherness on the Council, which she notes still meets in political party caucuses, even though voters made the council nonpartisan a few years ago.
“I know it will be difficult and I may be a caucus of one for a while, but things will change over time,” she maintains.
The Seattle Times reported her campaign has reported about $15,000 in contributions, compared with McDermott’s $100,000, which comes from labor unions, businesses, a gay-rights committee and other sources.
The primary in August ended with McDermott getting 60 percent of the vote to Toledo’s 19 percent as she overcame two other candidates. Those candidates, Normandy Park City Councilmember Shawn McEvoy and political newcomer Tim Fahey, have endorsed Toledo.
She says the county council “must engage employers with business friendly laws that encourage job creation, growth, and retention,” and that she will “work hard to create business tax incentives encouraging job growth and a stronger economy. I will fight to remove the bureaucratic red-tape and eliminate hurdles that limit our local business’s chances for success.”
Diana Toledo is her maiden name, her husband is Jerry Palmer and he owns a small Website design business in West Seattle.
Palmer sold his earlier business a few years ago so they could buy a house and start a family, she says, and he now works from home designing Web sites.
The couple has three daughters.
She says she was the primary breadwinner until earlier this year when she was let go by King County government, a move she says happened because she was a whistle-blower as a mid-level county official.
She says her husband has been trying to increase his business to make up for her loss of income and health insurance, but the struggling economy has not helped his efforts.
Toledo grew up in Seattle, graduated in 1990 from Nathan Hale High School, and then graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis on finance from the University of Washington in 1994.
Her father, Lauriston Robello Toledo, immigrated to the United States from the Philippine province of Cavite. He earned his U.S. citizenship by serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He currently works as a delivery truck driver and lives in Burien.
She says parents had a difficult marriage that ended in divorce. Her mother subsequently remarried.
“It was a difficult time for a mixed race couple (her mother is Scotch-Irish) in the 1970s in Seattle,” she says, resulting in half brothers that did not look like her because of different fathers. She says the family problems have stabilized and she has good relations with both her parents.
For years, she says, it was a tough existence with her family on welfare. But she says it caused her to work harder, get better grades and later was the first in her family to go to university.