Councilman, challenger seek to rein in county government

September 29, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Voters in unincorporated King County south of Issaquah will choose a County Council representative Nov. 3. Incumbent Councilman Reagan Dunn, elected to the post in November 2005, will face challenger Beverly Harison Tonda, a Maple Valley corporate trainer.Ballots will be mailed to King County voters next month. Council positions are nonpartisan.

In addition to county land near Issaquah, District 9 includes swaths of Bellevue, Newcastle and Renton.

Dunn and Tonda edged out Newcastle playwright Mark Greene in the Aug. 18 primary election. Dunn took 72.85 percent of the vote; Tonda followed with 19.57 percent.

Dunn was first appointed to the post in February 2005 to serve the remainder of outgoing Councilman Rob McKenna’s term. McKenna was elected state attorney general the previous November.

The next County Council member will face a $56 million shortfall in a budget of about $627 million and a projected $200 million Metro Transit deficit over the next two years.

As county officials grapple with ways to trim the budget, County Executive Kurt Triplett announced a money-saving plan to transfer the county-run Animal Care and Control to new contractors by June 30.

Dunn and Tonda said they support the plan, but differed about privatizing or transferring other county services to new providers.

“As long as people can be found to provide service,” Tonda said.

Dunn said he would be open to privatizing services, such as corrections or transit, if a proper level of service could be maintained.

“The government should be good at its core services,” Dunn said, citing infrastructure and safety as examples of essential services.

Tonda said maintaining and improving transportation infrastructure is crucial. She also cautioned against cutting too deep into human services funding. She said better spending on essential services could help prevent crime. She also acknowledged the budget problems King County faces.

“I’m a big believer in spending the right amount on human services,” she said.

Dunn said the economic downturn offered a chance to rein in the size of county government.

“In some ways, the recession has been a good thing for government,” he said.

Dunn said the size of county government must decrease. He said other members of the County Council are now more willing to consider cuts.

“Two years ago, I don’t think we could do what we did today with Animal Care and Control,” he said after the Sept. 24 announcement.

Tonda, who made her career in human resources, said her skills would be useful to ensure staff cuts are “done with dignity.”

On the Web

Beverly Harison Tonda

Reagan Dunn

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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