Election 2010: Vashon forum, 1st report: County Council #8

(WSB video of each candidate’s opening statement)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The West Seattle route of the King County Water Taxi got a lot less love from King County Council District 8 candidates at a forum last night than the Vashon Island route did.

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

20 Replies to "Election 2010: Vashon forum, 1st report: County Council #8"

  • Guest July 31, 2010 (8:32 pm)

    I was there!

    On issues that affect the County as a whole, such as the proposed sales tax; Both McEvoy and McDermott stated that unless the tax was approved there would be no option but to cut law enforcement positions. Toledo began by stating that she fully supports law enforcement and King County Sheriff Sue Rahr; but Toledo then went on to state that she opposes this tax increase because Toledo has also worked with front line staff in the county and knows that there is massive waste in other areas, specifically in mid and upper level management, political appointees, and political positions that should be looked at before stripping law enforcement or raising taxes. Fahey also opposed the sales tax; stating that in this time of high unemployment that the people he knows cannot afford another tax.

    On local issues such as the Docton-Road sea wall, the Ferry System, and Mining the candidates reached more of a consensus; with all agreeing that each of these issues were a symptom of a Legislature and Council who ignore problems until it they reach crisis mode. Fahey drew direct parallels between the issues on Vashon-Maury Island and the closing of the South Park Bridge; Toledo agreed, stating that our local government is broken; that career politicians ignore problems until it’s too late, and then rush out for newspaper photo-ops and political grandstanding about how they are going to “save the bridge”! The audience awaiting retort from Joe McDermott who has served in the Legislature for the past 10 years, but it appeared that both McDermott and McEvoy came prepared with specific lines of sight and talking points that would not allow for diverging paths.

    From start to finish the Forum proceeded in an orderly fashion, with no real standouts for the night; until the closing statements that is.
    Fahey and McDermott closed out their evenings with expected statements of who they were and how they would fight for the community. McEvoy followed suit, with nothing out of the ordinary or unexpected; however, once Diana Toledo began to speak, Mr. McEvoy interrupted; stating that he was not aware that time had run out and that he was supposed to give his closing statement.

    McEvoy had spent his 3 minutes addressing questions on education funding and had missed the opportunity to give his official closing statement. McEvoy was given an additional 1.5 minutes in which he continued much as McDermott and Fahey did, stating his record and telling the audience he would fight for them.

    The microphone was then returned to Diana Toledo, who some might have expected to be rattled by the previous interruption to her closing speech; but as the other candidates sat comfortably in their chairs, Toledo stood to address the crowd. In a 3 minute speech that could give some of our best orators a run for their money; Diana was articulate, passionate, and empathetic as she spoke of her 15 years with the county, about her interactions with front-line workers, and fighting for every person that came to her for assistance. Her 3 minute closing statement left the audience shaking their heads in agreement and a renewed energy in the room.

    Ending in spectacular form, the event then concluded, with candidates shaking hands and dispersing into the audience to meet community members.

    A great night for Vashon-Maury residents as we now begin the process of who we will choose to move towards the general election in November.

  • ivan August 1, 2010 (7:48 am)

    This is pure fantasy from the Toledo “camp.” Here on Vashon Island, where this entire population has been fighting against this odious gravel mine for 12 years now, she actually claimed to have knocked on the doors of the two people out of 11,000 here who support this and therefore was “keeping an open mind.”

    Those heads weren’t shaking in agreement. They were shaking in wonderment that any candidate couild come over here and be so politically tone-deaf about the one single issue that unites us — and anyone in West Seattle who has been paying attention.

    So to summarize, Joe McDermott has three opponents here. One is running for County Council because apparently he is afraid of homeless people. Another apparently is afraid of political parties. And a third is running because she couldn’t hold a job as a dogcatcher.

    I think the forum brought all of this out quite well, thank you.

  • Mannix August 1, 2010 (10:16 am)

    McEvoy went to Vashon Island and told them his major issue is to cut county ferry service? Fahey’s favorite Councilmember is right-wing bumbler Reagan Dunn? And the brilliant Diana Toledo somehow lost her job with King County when, from her description, she was running the place?

    Joe McDermott will make a fine County Councilmember.

  • Joanne August 1, 2010 (10:16 am)

    On the West Seattle Water Taxi, I’ve used it a couple times this summer and while it’s nice, I don’t find it a good commuting option–even though the bus service to Alki where I live is mediocre at best. I still then need to either wait for the 37 which I could have gotten downtown or walk two miles which is great sometimes but not all. I think we need to put transportation dollars where they create the best improvements. Metro has a lot of work to do and I would rather see the public funding for the water taxi go to more frequent commuter busses myself. That’s just practical even if not romantic. I like the idea of the taxi and it’s great for tourists. Maybe it’s just too big. Perhaps something like the small water taxis up in Vancouver would be better if they’re safe on the Sound.

  • raincity August 1, 2010 (10:40 am)

    The water taxi works for many people as a solid commuting option. Don’t assume if it does not work for you, that it does not work for others and is therefore “romantic.” I get down town much faster than on the bus even without traffic tie ups which will only get worse. I agree 37 bus service is a missed opportunity and the links to the water taxi could be improved, but that’s metro’s issue not the water taxi’s issue.

  • Dan August 1, 2010 (10:51 am)

    Video of the whole event (except for about a minute near the start of the KC Council session) is available on the Voice of Vashon website, at http://www.voiceofvashon.org. Here’s a direct link to the video : http://bit.ly/b8u7K3

    • WSB August 1, 2010 (10:57 am)

      Thanks, Dan. I looked for that last night, hoping to add it to the story, but hadn’t found it. (Note that the 34th candidates were up first, so District 8 starts about midway through, which should be an hour or so in.) – TR

  • Fiona August 1, 2010 (11:04 am)

    Don’t forget that in a couple of short years’ time, the only way to get to downtown will be on the water taxi, as the viaduct becomes unviable! “Shawn McEvoy said West Seattleites had better “step up” their usage of the passenger ferry…” Really! candidates should make sure they look at an issue closer before commenting so glibly. Do they really think we were given this opportunity just for date night?! Lots of jobs are going to depend on a commuter option that isn’t at the mercy of traffic jams. Just look at the mess on the Spokane St viaduct – makes me want to jump on the water taxi just to avoid that!

  • vashon gayle August 1, 2010 (11:17 am)

    I was also there on Fri night. Joe McDermott had an excellent understanding of the challenges facing King Co and District 8. Diane Toledo is clearly still quite bitter about being let go from King County several months ago. That seems to be her only motivation for running, as she really didn’t know much about the issues (IMO). As Ivan said, I think that just about everyone in the audience was stunned to hear Toledo’s comment about finding support for Glacier’s mine here on Vashon (in fact, if memory serves, she said that she knocked on doors on MAURY and several people expressed support). Okay, I have heard a few people express support for a bridge, but have never heard anyone here express support for Glacier, not a Democrat, not a Republican, not an independent. No one!

    I have one correction about the *new* water taxi: everyone on Friday night was talking about the ferry from Vashon to Pier 50, not the Elliott Bay water taxi. I forget who, but one of the two male candidates (not Joe, who knows his stuff) seemed to be confused about WDOT’s ferries as opposed to King County’s ferries. One would think that they would all know about the difference between the two before coming to Vashon. One candidate actually asked about where the passenger boat docked, thinking that it went to Fauntleroy.

    Just my two cents.

    • WSB August 1, 2010 (11:27 am)

      VG, thanks for your comment. Re: correction – if you are correcting the earlier commenter, I agree with you, but what I wrote regarding comments on the West Seattle water taxi (obviously I was there to listen for the West Seattle angles more than the Vashon angles, which is why my story doesn’t even get into the discussion of the Dockton seawall – I’m certain the editor of the Beachcomber has an excellent story in the works which’ll include that!) is accurate.
      MOST of the “passenger-only ferry” discussion was re: the Vashon water taxi (quite the challenge to clarify things ever since the county decided to brand BOTH walk-on ferries as Water Taxi) but West Seattle did come up … and overall, in the light of ‘it’s not essential but Vashon is’ – which may be true in one respect since there is no way to get off Vashon without a boat, but on the other hand, with the current and future highway projects constricting the main pathways off our peninsula, some say we might as well be an island! – TR

  • Mickymse August 1, 2010 (1:27 pm)

    To echo a couple of earlier comments, folks need to give the Water Taxi a little time…
    In the next couple of years, while we will have a better Spokane Street Viaduct, the Alskan Way Viaduct will be under construction with a reduction to two lanes in each direction, and 1st Avenue will have a reduction to one lane in each direction.
    We need more commuter options in the next three years, not less!

  • Guest August 1, 2010 (1:45 pm)

    Well, it looks like Joe’s propaganda machine is up and running. Aren’t we tired of the name calling and distortions?

    I’m sorry, but when was the last time a “dog catcher” worked with Council Members and the Mayor’s office to write and enforce legislation? Please allow me to educate Joe’s hatchet-men;

    The job of Enforcement Coordinator/Asst. Superintendent of Licensing (Diana Toledo’s job-title) is responsible for supervising, implementing, overseeing the licensing and enforcement programs under both the Licensing and Animal Control sections. Coordinating investigations by working directly with local law enforcement, advocacy and volunteer groups, and other public and private agencies to enforce regulations and achieve compliance. Working directly with contract cities and other government agencies regarding interlocal agreements, service issues, complaints and complex inquiries. A little more responsibility than a dog catcher, right?

    As you have heard, Diana Toledo made a name for herself in the County by standing up for the front-line workers and tax-payers; blowing the whistle on corruption, abuse, and waste. After speaking out against one unqualified political appointee’s newly created six-figure salary, Diana was targeted.

    The county then placed the previous Director’s secretary (a woman with no-previous experience) into a management position overseeing the programs that Diana had run for the past decade, next, they cut Diana’s position and called it a budget cut.

    The cut was obviously a retaliatory firing for speaking out against the business as usual status-quo. This is all public record, and I’m sure that Joe’s team knows the facts, which is why his hatchet-men choose to try to reduce her experience to that of “disgruntled dog-catcher”.

    Anyone watching the video will see plainly that Diana has taken on a righteous fight, and there is no anger or bitterness. She has seen the broken system from the inside and knows what it will take to fix it.

    I encourage everyone to watch the entire video online, and especially the closing statements.

    Don’t fall for the tricks of the political machine.

  • Peter August 1, 2010 (9:16 pm)

    Joe McDermott is a machine politician who has no abilities to do anything other than add money to the machine. Unfortunately, the money has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is usually assessed against the property deeds of King County Landowners, indiscriminate of whether they were able to hold there job during the economic downturn or not. McDermott want’s to be in a position of throwing more money into the Government Sector Union Employee/Government Dependant Contractor machine. All the while he chants “I care”, while the free-market small businesses of South Park he represented for ten years, rot on the vine. Joe McDermott is an inflexible knee-jerk government solution guy. In difficult economic times like these, we need innovative thinkers like Diana Toledo, who challenge the system, to create better solutions at lower costs.

  • ivan August 1, 2010 (9:40 pm)

    @ Peter: What a laugh. Your political analysis is about as good as your map-reading skill is — nonexistent. Joe McDermott has never, at any time, represented South Park. South Park is, and has been, in the 11th Legislative District, and not the 34th. Try again.

  • miws August 1, 2010 (9:58 pm)

    Holy toledo!


    Looks like we have a couple of cut & paste whizzes here! :lol:



  • Peter August 1, 2010 (10:55 pm)

    Hey Ivan: Joe would be a perfect candidate for you. If he represents the 11th congressional district, than he doesn’t even know which district he represents:
    His own website says 34th District. Here is a map. The 34th’s border cuts down at 102nd street to is Hwys 509 and 99. Hwy 99 bisects South Park. Joe McDermott owns the South Park Bridge failure.
    He also represented both sides of the Maury Island gravel fiasco. Hwy 99 incorporates Glacier Sand and Gravel, now CalPortland. He also represented Maury Island. His biggest endorsement is from Dow Constantine, who studied infrastructure, but doesn’t seem to know how to build it. Constantine was the previous representative of the 34th. If failure is what you are looking for, Joe’s your guy.
    ps without gravel, roads and schools don’t get built. It is an essential component of both concrete and road bedding. Dem’s can’t claim to be both pro-jobs and anti-gravel. I respect the concerns about sea-life. But it’s speaking out of both sides of the mouth, to claim concern for jobs and Unions, then shut down gravel pits in favor of environmental zealotry. A happy medium could have been struck.

    • WSB August 1, 2010 (11:48 pm)

      Joe McDermott is state senator in the 34th District. The South Park Bridge is in the 11th District. 509 is the line in that area and that’s a couple miles west of the now-closed bridge. If we were talking about CONGRESSIONAL district, US Rep JIM McDermott has long represented the 7th District, which includes the SP Bridge. Anyone who wants to check their legislative and congressional districts can use this handy-dandy feature:

  • Peter August 2, 2010 (9:23 am)

    Here’s the map I used
    It shows only the district and it’s boundaries.
    Here’s a map from the 11th district, Joe’s previous job.
    It shows the bridge fully within the district, rather than the most populous approach to it.
    These are the Dem’s own maps.

    • WSB August 2, 2010 (10:06 am)

      Sen. McDermott has never represented the 11th District – which does not include his native West Seattle – he’s been a state representative and then state senator in the 34th.

  • chilly August 2, 2010 (11:11 am)

    I watched the forum live on VoV with friends who live on Vashon and we all came away with the same impressions.
    Joe is just another product of the 34th’s political machine. He goes on and on about all the politicians he knows and is real good at “campaign speak”, but rarely comes right out and answers the question.
    Diana has a chip on her shoulder. Her plan of slash and burn through King County middle management might be good public rhetoric, but does it really solve the problems of the 8th District?
    Shawn seemed to be the most informed on issues in the 8th District, has a stellar enviromental record and has already been working with the
    smaller communities district wide, but got confused over who provides what services to the island.
    Tim needs to study the issues of the 8th district and countywide to see there are more problems than just the South Park Bridge(closed with a loud public display of incompetence and reactive politics by our current elected official), and is just the tip of the iceberg.
    None of our group could really make a choice after this forum, as no candidate really stood out to a group of independent voters.
    I hope the SLoWV forum will leave us with a clear choice.

Sorry, comment time is over.