With months of campaigning behind him, and with his sweeping November vote tallies counted and certified, Dow Constantine officially took office as the new King County Executive on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Marking the occasion, Constantine told a packed house at a Seattle recital hall that he planned to create a new “Culture of Performance” in King County, changing the way county government does its business, its budgets, and most importantly, how it serves its citizens.
Among Constantine’s remarks about his goals for his first 100 days was a plan to address the critical issues facing King County. He also pledged to build innovative relationships with both cities and rural areas, promising listeners he would forge new partnerships with leaders from King County’s 39 cities and unincorporated areas. “For too long, King County government has talked too much, and not listened enough,” Constantine said. “We are going to change that.” He also stressed he would do more to protect working rural farms that “provide local, healthy food to schools and farmers’ markets.”
While severe budget cuts are hampering the county’s ability to affect grand and sweeping changes, Valley residents are still looking to the county for effective leadership in everything from flood control and law enforcement to the permitting process and economic development. Enacting pivotal changes in county government culture and attitude towards service to its constituency however, costs nothing.
To achieve that change, Constantine must lead the way. He can do much under his watch to eradicate the local perception of Seattle-Centric arrogance that many citizens in East King County and the Snoqualmie Valley have towards King County government and its departments. Many times, this writer has been told by local residents of all political and economic stripes that they are tired of being treated (by county departments or officials) like the Snoqualme Valley was in Kittitas County.’
One essential step Constantine and his department heads can take towards building this ‘culture of performance’ is to creatively and effectively partner with the councilmembers of Districts 9, 3 and 6 and with local city leaders in East King County. If and when he does so, there also is no substitute for ‘boots on the ground’.
Coming to the Valley for photo ops, election forums and even (God forbid) flood response will not be enough. Constantine can do much in the months ahead to actually change the culture in King County government and how it responds to the needs of the Snoquamie Valley, but that cannot be effectively done unless he comes here to the Valley, and he listens.
• E-mail Snoqualmie Valley Record Publisher William Shaw at email@example.com.