Opinion | County exec, Valley leaders quick to find connections

With annexations, tax shortfalls, a recession and more challenges than ever, there’s no denying the county is experiencing hard times. But there’s still some fight left in King County, if I read between the lines of Executive Dow Constantine’s replies to our questions at the Record’s recent meet-and-greet and Q&A session.

When the newly-elected Constantine came here in 2010, he met locals who shared their concerns on economics, bureaucracy and mother nature.

This year, at the midpoint of his tenure, Constantine was slated to visit for a local governments’ dinner. Valley Record Publisher William Shaw arranged for Constantine to make a second stop, meeting with civic and business leaders to share his thoughts on where the county stands today.

The newspaper also made a point of inviting a different, diverse group to hear and question Constantine.

This exchange is something that these folks might never have experienced if this was a typical meet-and-greet at local city halls. During the meeting, and especially afterward, participants were quick to find connections—from Sherwood Koerssjoen, a Snoqualmie businessman who also happens to be a North Bend resident and champion of tourism and better local transportation, to Fall City’s Angie Donaldson, who weighed in on flooding concerns, to Mount Si Food Bank’s Heidi Dukich, who expressed the plight of local needy. That’s something we were proud to facilitate.

Part of our mission is to do all we can to benefit Valley businesses. By hosting these events, we give our county executive a broader, clearer picture of the needs and happenings in the Valley. We do that by having him meet a group of people he might not encounter otherwise.

These links can help both the Valley and the county. By understanding and then helping the area’s transportation network, tourism potential and flood protection, the county helps these businesses thrive. In return, a thriving local econonomy and populace can help the county regain its fiscal vitality.

Constantine appears to have delivered on his efforts to change the culture of King County. He’s looking to state, rightly, for innovation, while seeking a regional approach to the issues of funding and transportation that affect far more people than just unincorporated residents, but which the county’s shrinking population is on the hook for.

Plus, it looks as if the county is very serious about partnerships and efficiencies, in areas from flood control to tourism to services for the poor and elderly.

I’m also heartened to see that the county council is taking its time in considering construction of a big new NBA/NHL arena in Seattle. King County does need to deeply explore the nature of any partnerships, agreements and costs to the taxpayers.

In Constantine’s second term, we should watch to see if this work bears fruit, in terms of repaired roads, streamlined flood prevention, a user-friendly, economically feasible county service system. Let’s hope Constantine has good news to report in two more years.


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