by Mark Neuman
The B-Town Blog spoke recently with Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, who, along with fellow councilmember Dow Constantine are the leading contenders in the race to replace outgoing King County Executive Ron Sims.
THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE:
We asked Phillips who he regards as the best King County Executive since the office came into existence some 40 years ago.
Phillips named three, starting with the first Executive, John Spellman, who served three terms.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think Spellman set the framework for successful (county) government. I hold him in high regard. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a fabulous individual.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips admires Randy Revelle, who served in the early 1980s and for whom Phillips served as chief of staff for four years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I got to know the executive branch very, very well during that period,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was in the room for all the tough decisions.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am also partial to Ron Sims, who I believe had an extraordinary run during his years two through eightÃ¢â‚¬Â as Executive.
RESPONDING TO DOW’S BULLET POINTS:
Phillips agreed to respond to five bullet points that appeared on a direct mail piece the Constantine campaign mailed out to prospective voters the week of March 30th.
The Constantine bullet points appear in italics below.
CLAIM: Dow fought for parks, open space and Puget Sound. He has a 97% lifetime environmental voting record
RESPONSE: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I completely trump Dow when it comes to parks, open space and Puget Sound. If there is one hallmark to my service over the years itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the contributions that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made to open space in King County and our regional parks system. I could go on beyond that significantly. I trump Dow in spades.Ã¢â‚¬Â
CLAIM: Dow helped lead passage of light rail expansion
RESPONSE: Ã¢â‚¬Å“That one he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to claim for himself.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips recalled the failure of area voters to approve light rail during his school days in the late 1960Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and early 1970Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been fighting for light rail ever since, including my time in the Washington State legislature.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a growth management guy, so I look ahead ten to twenty years. My dad was an architect, so planning is part of my DNA.Ã¢â‚¬Â
CLAIM: Dow is a champion for jobs and working families
RESPONSE: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a fabulous labor voting record. I emphasize jobs and infrastructure.Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips named several labor endorsements his campaign has received to date.
CLAIM: Dow demanded efficiency in audits in county government
RESPONSE: Ã¢â‚¬Å“No one has led more reforms in county government than I have. I was the one who called for the audit of Metro Transit last year before anybody else did.Ã¢â‚¬Â
CLAIM: Dow is the only candidate who represents rural areas, suburban cities, Seattle neighborhoods and the broad diversity that is King County. Dow will unify, not divide our county
RESPONSE: Phillips responded by pointing out that he has received endorsements of the rural county mayors of Enumclaw, Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Issaquah.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a long, long history of working with the rural communities of King County. I know their issues and I know their people.Ã¢â‚¬Â
RED LIGHT CAMERAS:
Phillips says he does not see the use of red light cameras by some cities in King County (such as Burien) at certain intersections as a revenue-generating effort.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sparingly and appropriately used, red light cameras are a public safety and traffic calming effort,Ã¢â‚¬Â he says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“However, there needs to be some balance and common sense in how much they are utilized.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips says that King County Ã¢â‚¬Å“does not have the taxing authority that cities have. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very hard for King County to continue to provide the levels of service that people normally expect in urban areas.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Growth Management Act strongly encourages incorporation or annexation in urban areas, but does not require it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips says itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s up to the citizens in the remaining pockets of non-annexed and unincorporated areas to decide for themselves whether they want change or the status quo.
Short of incorporation or annexation, Phillips says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“our ability to provide current levels of services to North Highline and the White Center community will likely continue to diminish over time.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Does Phillips think the residents living northwest of Sea-Tac Airport were, perhaps, duped with respect to the intended use of the now functioning third runway?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think the Port, from my perspective, can always do a better job of communicating with the public on what theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re doing, with respect to high profile or contentious issues,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been a student of this issue as perhaps other citizens living around Sea-Tac Airport are.Ã¢â‚¬Â
STATE INCOME TAX:
Does Phillips support a state income tax?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have supported a state income tax, yes,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“DowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very proud of the fact that he supported the commission that just talks about an income tax. I actually supported the legislation.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips is a University of Washington alum, who played basketball on his high school varsity team. He went out on a non-political limb: Regardless of who wins the race for King County Executive in November, he predicts the Husky menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball team will come out on top as National Champs in the Final Four next spring.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am three generations deep into being a Husky and I believe in Purple!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Here’s Phillips’ YouTube video announcement for his campaign:
So who will you vote for as Ron Sims’ replacement? Please answer our poll:
[EDITOR’S NOTES: The B-Town Blog first published an interview with candidate Dow Constantine on February 16. The primary election is August 18th; the general election is November 3rd.]
Councilmember Phillips makes some good points. However, it wasn't until January 2009 before he supported the bored tunnel option for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, over a month after the state selected that option and after others put their toes in the water first. He seems like one who doesn't lead, but waits until others have blazed the trail first, then when it's safe, he backs the winning issue. Secondly, note his non-committal statements on red-light cameras…for instance, how does he define "appropriately used"…or "balance and common sense," for that matter? Third, while informative, I'm wary of endorsements, as those indicate who a candidate is beholden to: after all, they're funding the candidate's campaign, and it can be a significant source. Lastly, nothing in the interview about the county's dire financial situation, including Metro Transit. It should be an interesting campaign.
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