November 17, 2009
Early signs from county exec are encouraging
In the weeks since King County voters picked Dow Constantine as next county executive, the leader-in-waiting has taken several steps to include Issaquah and Eastside voices in the transition. We applaud these efforts.With little time to prepare for the daunting executive post, Constantine wasted no time as he assembled a 30-member transition team during the 21-day sprint from Election Day to Nov. 24, when the next executive will take office.
Constantine will become the third county leader since May, and the challenges before him are daunting. In addition to crippling county and Metro Transit budget shortfalls, Constantine must reassure anxious taxpayers as county leaders weigh service cuts and other painful, albeit money-saving, measures.
As Constantine prepares to take the reins, we were heartened by his decision to include longtime Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler and state Sen. Fred Jarrett as members of the transition team. Jarrett will stick around after the transition is complete; Constantine appointed the lawmaker to the No. 2 spot in county government.
Republican-turned-Democrat Jarrett served in the state House until he was elected to the Senate last year. The experience he gained at the state level, as well as the skills he gained as a Boeing executive and Mercer Island mayor, will make him a steady presence as Constantine and the County Council are forced to grapple with tough decisions. He represents a slice of Issaquah in the Senate.
Butler is a seasoned hand and the City Council’s resident expert on regional transportation issues. As a member of the Sound Transit board, Butler could provide valuable insight about critical transit issues as Constantine readies for the task ahead. And, as a voice for Issaquah, Butler will ensure the concerns of Issaquah residents reach the highest tier of county government.
Constantine, meanwhile, should make the effort to seek input from Issaquah and Eastside residents after the transition is complete. The next executive should also mend fences with rural residents hurt by the way the county handled the Critical Areas Ordinance.
We endorsed Constantine because he committed to keeping urban county parks — like Klahanie Park — open until new owners could be found, as well as the plan he floated for a staff person assigned to work with the small cities and rural areas.
We remain encouraged by the actions Constantine has taken thus far.