(WSB video of each candidate’s opening statement)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
You of course have to take into consideration the fact that Vashon Island was where the forum was held – Courthouse Square, to be specific, part of a double bill with a forum for candidates in the other big open race that’s on Vashon, West Seattle, White Center and Burien (etc.) ballots, 34th District State House Position 2 (we’ll cover that one in a separate story later).
This race, if you’re just starting to ramp up, is for the County Council seat that used to be held by now-County Executive Dow Constantine. Former Seattle City Councilmember Jan Drago was appointed to do the job until this fall’s election, but wasn’t interested in running to keep it. Four candidates are running, and all were on hand for last night’s forum.
State Sen. Joe McDermott of West Seattle was the only candidate voicing unqualified support for the West Seattle Water Taxi run. Tim Fahey of South Park said he’d only found it useful to “go on dates” (and he hadn’t been aware of the Vashon run until it came up at the forum); Normandy Park City Councilmember Shawn McEvoy said West Seattleites had better “step up” their usage of the passenger ferry (seeming to infer “use it or lose it”); and Diana Toledo of West Seattle was noncommittal, saying she didn’t want to make promises she couldn’t keep.
And that was nowhere near the hottest topic they had to face in the hour-long forum moderated by Seattle University law professor (and Vashon resident) Craig Beles:
(From left: Toledo, McEvoy, McDermott, Fahey)
The forum format gave each of the four a chance to make an opening and closing statement (though the latter was preceded by moderator Beles reading audience questions that didn’t get asked and offering the candidates the chance to address them in their final words), with Q/A – written audience Q’s, candidate 1-minute A’s – inbetween.
Asked to name three departments for budget cuts, if more had to be made, the candidates’ answers diverged significantly. McEvoy suggested “flood control … county ferries … human services.” McDermott said there wouldn’t be much choice but to cut human services and public safety/criminal justice. Fahey focused his answer on wanting to “redirect how the Department of Transportation does its job – change it from service-based to research-based,” as in researching which roads are in the worst shape, to decide which to fix first. Toledo mentioned the King County Sheriff’s Office and went on to a theme she repeated several times during the night, her belief that county government has “significant amounts of waste … there are people in middle management positions making six-figure salaries with no experience or qualifications.”
Money matters came back around in a question about the sales-tax increase on the November ballot, with much of the proceeds going to stave off some of the expected cuts in the county public-safety budget. How are you going to vote? each candidate was asked.
McEvoy: Qualified “yes” – “I’m not in favor of raising taxes, but (this is) so important, we can’t afford to let this opportunity pass.”
Toledo: “No,” again citing her belief that King County government is “full of bloated management positions.”
Fahey said no, noting that he has been unemployed for almost a year, in a union (carpenters) that he said has a very high rate of joblessness currently, so “I don’t know what they think we are buying that we can charge more sales tax for.”
McDermott: “Yes,” citing how imperative he feels it is to preserve programs such as Drug Court and Family Court that would face cuts without it, as well as other public-safety and criminal-justice programs.
They also fielded a question about their potential future colleagues – “Who (that’s currently) on the King County Council do you admire most?”
McDermott: Larry Gossett
McEvoy: Julia Patterson
Fahey: Reagan Dunn
Toledo: Said she didn’t want to name one because she’s “truly nonpartisan” and hopes to work with them all
On a Vashon-area hot-button issue – the Maury Island Glacier gravel-mine controversy – Toledo and Fahey both acknowledged they weren’t deeply familiar with the matter enough to answer the question of what they would do to stop Glacier from mining Maury. McEvoy didn’t speak to specifics, but recalled the South King County fight against the third runway, and suggested that islanders “go to meetings and let them hear your voices.” McDermott promised to “continue doing everything in my power to prohibit Glacier from expanding their mining operations,” mentioning his support in the last legislative session for Maury-residing Rep. Sharon Nelson‘s bill allotting $15 million in state money to buy the site.
The hour went quickly (and remember, a quarter of it went to the opening statements, all four of which you can watch in their entirety in the video clips atop this story). In closing statements, Fahey emphasized that the South Park Bridge is his most important issue of the campaign, and that he’d like to see human-services money spent more wisely – “We spend an awful lot of money on homeless shelters that go unused because they are awful.”
McDermott stressed his endorsements and ratings, saying he is running for County Council to be part of how services are delivered (as opposed to his legislative role, involving making policies about those services).
McEvoy read from a written statement, saying, “Nonpartisanship works,” and stressing his skills in collaboration and relationship-building.
Toledo recalled her days in King County Animal Services, selling pet licenses on Vashon (among other places), saying she’d go anywhere possible to “improve the level of service,” telling the story of losing her job because of “a budget cut” after “speaking against what I thought was gross abuse and waste” in the Animal Services system, then vowing to spend long hours working for constituents if elected.
You have another chance to see all four candidates at one forum, this time without a ferry ride, if you go to the Seattle League of Women Voters‘ forum at First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard) this Thursday night at 7:30 pm – state Supreme Court candidates are on the agenda too. Meantime, we’re archiving our coverage of this race here; plus, we have another story coming up, about the first half of last night’s “double bill,” the 34th District State House Position 2 candidates’ forum
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