by Mark Neuman
We spoke recently with Ross Hunter, candidate for King County Executive.
Ross, a Medina Democrat, managed a political miracle, if you will, seven years ago.
The 48th District (Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland) had not sent a Democrat to the House in over 100 years. Ross got himself elected.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That was back when it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fashionable to be a Democrat on the east side. It was hard work. I raised and spent about a quarter of a million dollars. I knocked on eight thousand doors. I worked pretty hard.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Was there a particular selling point?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sure. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m competent. And I care about public education, the paramount duty of the state legislature.Ã¢â‚¬Â
We asked Ross about one of his opponents for King County Executive, Susan Hutchison. In a recent direct mail piece Susan said she, if elected, would establish a transportation czar.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Susan seems to be confused about the powers the King County Executive actually has.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For her to come in and say she is going to have a czar that takes over the functions of the cities and the state is a fundamental misreading of what the King County Executive is actually allowed to do.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The job of Executive is a complicated one with a lot of moving parts and a $5 billion budget.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Unless we coordinate our transportation with our land use we are making the problem worse.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ross recently received the endorsement of the Seattle Times.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Of course it makes you feel good that they (the Times) share your belief that you are competent to do the job.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Next to the Seattle Times endorsement, I am most proud of the endorsement of the Eastside Business Alliance. This is a group of various chambers of commerce who know their business doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t succeed if they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have quality education for their kids, or if they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have roads.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our economy and quality of life depends on us making the wisest use of limited transportation dollars. We are one county, one region, and we should act like it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The solution to improving the business climate isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always to cut taxes. Making the system fairer and easier to comply with could have much more impact. More service, less overhead. Simplifying and regionalizing how King County does business with its businesses is one way the county can potentially save businesses thousands and thousands of dollars.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We can simplify the permitting process for builders and contractors. Instead of making a business owner waste time traveling throughout the county to revisit city permitting offices, King County can provide a regional office where businesses can manage their permits at one location.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Many cities in King County are already doing this and thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no reason we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t provide such a service countywide.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I propose that King County provides a simple web service for businesses to apply for licenses and calculate and pay business taxes. One tax return, one tax bill.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Regarding recent budget cuts Ross said Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think we probably need more prosecutors. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a place I would have cut. I also wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have cut into the public defenders.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are normal times and there are special times. This is a special time, because of the unprecedented downturn in the economy.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ross said he expects voters of North Highline to approve annexation on August 18.
He supports annexation because with it Ã¢â‚¬Å“There will be somebody to answer residentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ phone calls.Ã¢â‚¬Â