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Candidates for King County Council visit Vashon, offer varying views
Four candidates running for a seat on the King County Council came to Vashon Friday, where they took opposing positions on everything from a proposed sales tax to shore up the criminal justice system to the fate of the Vashon-Seattle pedestrian boat.
Political newcomers Diana Toledo and Tim Fahey both said they oppose a Nov. 2 ballot measure calling for 0.2-cent per $1 sales tax increase — a measure the county council is putting before voters to help stave off far-reaching cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office and prosecutor’s office.
Sen. Joe McDermott (D-West Seattle) and former Normandy Park mayor Shawn McEvoy said they’d support the tax, with McDermott saying it’s a small price to pay “to forego a 12 percent across the board cut” to the region’s criminal justice system and McEvoy noting he’s opposed to raising taxes but sees no choice in this instance.
The four candidates are vying for the District 8 seat on the council — a swath that includes Vashon, West Seattle, White Center, Burien and Normandy Park and that is currently represented by Jan Drago. Drago was appointed to the position as a “caretaker” councilmember after Dow Constantine became the King County executive.
Two of the four will head to the Nov. 2 general election after the Aug. 17 primary. The $127,000-position is nonpartisan, though the council often votes in what are considered Republican and Democratic blocs.
At Friday’s forum, held at Courthouse Square and moderated by Islander Craig Beles, the candidates answered a range of questions offered up in writing by the audience.
The King County Ferry District, which runs the passenger-only boat between Vashon and downtown Seattle, came up a couple of times, with the candidates sounding different notes on the popular but financially precarious district.
Fahey, a carpenter who was rated “not qualified” by the Municipal League of King County, did not know that such a district existed or that it ran a boat between Vashon and downtown Seattle.
McEvoy, rated “very good” by the Municipal League, mentioned the ferry district as one place he’d cut if the county’s dire financial situation grew worse. Later in the forum, he noted that the district is dipping into its reserves at a rapid rate and added, “Right now, it’s a non-sustainable model.”
Toledo, a former King County employee rated “good” by the Municipal League, noted that the Island is in obvious need of ferry service but equivocated when asked if she’d protect the ferry district from future budget cuts. “I’m not going to tell you what want to hear. … I won’t make promises I can’t keep,” she said.
McDermott, a veteran lawmaker who was ranked “outstanding” — the highest rating — by the Municipal League, called the passenger-only boat a part of the region’s transit system. “While Metro has its own budget gap, it shouldn’t be raiding the PO boat’s funds,” he added.
The four candidates also sparred over the fate of the gravel mine on the eastern flank of Maury Island. McDermott, who worked closely with Rep. Sharon Nelson to secure $15 million from the Asarco cleanup settlement and other sources to help purchase the mine site, reiterated his long-standing opposition to Glacier Northwest’s ambitious gravel-extraction plans. “I’ll do everything within my power,” he said, when asked what he’d do to stop Glacier.
McEvoy and Fahey also voiced their opposition to Glacier’s expansion efforts.
Toledo, meanwhile, said she thought knew her position on the issue but after a day of door-belling on the Island found that “some people want to let (the expansion) occur.” She added, “I would have to look further at the issue after what I’ve heard today.”