What mattered most to the two candidates for the District 3 seat on the Metropolitan King County Council last week was how county residents get around. They just approached the issue from different angles.
At the Sept. 27 Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce luncheon, both candidates took part in a round of questioning led by moderator Earl Bell, and for their final question, they were asked to name the one priority they’d choose to focus on, “to bring about positive change.”
“There’s no doubt, it would be roads. I’m very concerned about roads,” said King County Councilman Kathy Lambert. She noted that the county’s roads and bridges task force was working on a solution. “And I hope something will be on the November ballot next year, and I hope people will support it. I know people are getting so frustrated by tax increases, but this is the one that I think is really important. We have a $40 billion asset and it is not being taken care of.”
“For me, it’s bus service. I’ve talked to the mayors, they’ve struggled long and hard to get adequate bus service out here,” said Lambert’s challenger, John Murphy. He noted that area traffic is regularly gridlocked as close by as Issaquah, “so bus service will be especially important to my agenda, and restoring bus service to the Valley, in a meaningful way, probably a little bit on an accelerated basis.”
Lambert, a Redmond resident, is seeking a third term representing District 3. She has previously served as a 45th District Representative, owned a business and taught school.
Murphy, a North Bend resident since 1988 is, an attorney, holds physician’s assistant credentials and is a retired EF&R firefighter and Navy corpsman.
On how to improve bus service to the area, Murphy said, ”Part of it has to do with funding,” including property taxes residents pay here and the sales taxes they pay in larger retail centers, which don’t necessarily benefit them.
Lambert noted that while King County Metro has cut service hours to the area, “there will be some more hours coming in three different waves.” The county will also receive federal funding to buy more buses. She added, though, that “the most important thing for us here is alternative services… because for most of us, it’s how do we get that last mile.” Alternative services include the Snoqualmie Valley Shuttle, and “We have to build up our ridership out here.”
Bell then asked the candidates how to keep our rural roads maintained.
The problem is the funding formula, Lambert said. Only 200,000 unincorporated property owners in King County are paying to maintain the county’s 1,500 miles of rural roads, “and that is not OK; 2.1 million people use those roads, and 2.1 million people need to pay for those roads.”
More studies are not the solution, Murphy said. “We’ve been throwing these technical solutions at these problems… we need to bring in some different ways to think about the problem and solutions.”
He suggested one.
Take a look at some of these big businesses we give significant tax breaks to; can we do some sort of public-private partnership in order to make a big impact on the roads that their employees use.”
Asked for a specific instance of when the county should move the boundary lines, Lambert answered “There are 14 specifications in the law… that tell you when the Growth Management Act is working, and one of them is you have affordable housing, and one is you have good transportation.” Since those conditions aren’t met, she said, the line should be moved, but through a consensus between cities and county about where growth and roads should go.
Murphy said the question indicated that growth has already exceeded the area’s ability to absorb it, and that any boundary adjustment should call for citizen input and education. “The way it all comes down is ‘how am I going to be affected by this new growth that’s coming into the community?’” he said, which emphasized the importance of “getting the citizens involved, and getting them educated as to what the urban growth boundary is all about, how can we do the expansion without adversely impacting the infrastructure…”
Lambert’s campaign website is http://www.kathylambert.com.
Murphy’s campaign website is https://johnmurphy.nationbuilder.com.