Vote Yes for Best Starts for Kids

Funding from this initiative has already resulted in direct benefits for Vashon youth.

  • Wednesday, July 21, 2021 9:20pm
  • Opinion

The official primary and special Aug. 3 election ballot has arrived in islanders’ mailboxes, and the good news is that it only contains two checkboxes. Not too much to mull over, right? Uh, actually, there is.

The first ballot choice is the contest for King County Executive, which includes a bid by Vashon’s own state senator in the 34th Legislative District, Joe Nguyen, who is trying to unseat incumbent Dow Constantine. It’s worth noting that Constantine also once represented the 34th.

Nguyen’s platform is built on social justice issues that are well known to him personally — he grew up as the son of impoverished refugees living in White Center. He is a passionate advocate for what is surely needed in King County and throughout the nation: sweeping change in the ways our government addresses homelessness, poverty, climate change, housing affordability, gun violence, police reform and other big issues.

It is good to see a young and talented challenger rise from the left to challenge Constantine, holding him accountable to more quickly meet the progressive goals he has always espoused.

But this doesn’t seem like Nguyen’s year, as his fundraising and the buzz around his campaign have proved to be more lackluster than expected. Constantine has also garnered meaningful endorsements from Nguyen’s own colleagues, 34th District Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon — public servants islanders have come to trust.

This race seems like a foregone conclusion before it begins, but we wish Nguyen the best in future contests. We need voices like his, and robust challenges to deeply entrenched and established politicians like Constantine.

A thornier question for some islanders is posed by the second item on the ballot.

King County Proposition 1, if passed, will continue and increase funding for an expansive county program called Best Starts for Kids (BSK) — increasing the BSK levy rate from about 11.5 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation this year to 19 cents next year.

Funding from this initiative has already resulted in direct benefits for Vashon youth.

Without BSK, the clinic operated by Neighborcare Health at Vashon High School that serves children and youth would not exist. A BSK grant paid for the clinic’s start-up expenses, and BSK money pays for its operation.

Throughout the pandemic, this clinic provided desperately needed mental and physical health assists for island youth and families at a time when they needed them most. And the clinic will continue to greatly benefit our community — but only if it receives the funding it needs.

BSK has also assisted other agencies and organizations woven into Vashon’s social service safety net, including Vashon Youth & Family Services, Comunidad Latina de Vashon and Vashon’s DOVE Project. At the School District, the program has also funded crucial behavioral health and intervention programs.

It seems a no-brainer to vote yes to continue to reap the benefits of this remarkable program.

But it is also understandable that islanders might be skittish about any property tax measure these days, after assessed property values spiked alarmingly this year. Our community has also grappled, in the past year, with decisions made by our Health Care and Fire District commissioners that involved our system’s dreaded $5.90 “levy lid.”

To recap as concisely as possible: our state’s tax law is structured in a way that forces the island’s tax districts into a system where, together, their levies cannot exceed a cap of $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed value. Once that cap is breached, tax revenue for various Vashon districts can be reduced.

On the island, this meant that Vashon Parks would have lost funding to pro-rationing this year, when higher levies than expected were approved by Vashon Health Care and Fire District commissioners. But thankfully, new legislation has now protected Parks from further harm, effective for tax years 2022 through 2026 — honoring the will of 80% of Vashon voters who approved Parks’ most recent levy.

Our Health Care District will also remain safe from any unintended impacts of BSK because it contains a provision that allows some junior taxing districts to be reimbursed by BSK funds if the levy causes the $5.90 rate to be exceeded and those districts are “pro-rationed” as a result.

In our view, concern about our local taxing districts should not be a factor in how islanders decide to vote on Proposition 1 — especially given the fact that when assessed values go up (as they most certainly have on Vashon this year) levy rates tend to go down. This means there is not much likelihood that the $5.90 rate will be exceeded on Vashon in 2022.

For these reasons, we encourage islanders to support Proposition 1, as it has proven to be an extremely worthy use of taxpayer money. We’ll more than recoup the tax paid with better health and brighter futures for island youth.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

As Delta Dawns, Islanders Need To Renew Precautions

We know now what can happen when we follow the rules: life returns to a semblance of normality.

Reflections on a Sweet Strawberry Festival

The Festival was filled with our traditional events and activities, but all with a focus on Vashon.

Energy Consumption Globally, and Locally, Is Too High

We are not taking the climate crisis seriously.

Vote Yes for Best Starts for Kids

Funding from this initiative has already resulted in direct benefits for Vashon youth.

Everything Must Change. What are the New Rules?

What we really need is some concrete guidance, a “to do” list.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact
King County primary election candidates to watch | Roegner

With the Aug. 3 primary election, the public will narrow the field… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at
Massive reforestation effort needed in Washington and beyond | Brunell

Massive forest fires in the western parts of our country are not… Continue reading

Mukai Joins Mayoral Race, Hosts Day of Festival Fun

What says Strawberry Festival like the history of the strawberry on Vashon?

Here’s to Friendlier Fourths in the Future

There are people to see, and places to go, and good clean fun to be had.

Most Read