Councilman urges King County to find better plan to fund public safety

December 1, 2010

NEW — 1 p.m. Dec. 1, 2010

Reagan Dunn urged other King County Council members Wednesday to create a “priority commission” to determine how the cash-strapped county can fund the criminal justice system.

The county councilman offered the proposal less than a month after voters rejected a sales tax hike meant to limit cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office and county courts.

The council later cut more than 20 deputies from the sheriff’s office in a lean 2011 budget. Dunn argued against the criminal cuts and refused to approve the spending plan.

Liberty High School is scheduled to lose a school resource officer as a result of the cuts, and a police storefront near Issaquah is due to close.

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Republican tide ebbs in Issaquah-area races

November 9, 2010

Both parties highlight successes in local contests

The national GOP tsunami carried Republicans into statehouses across the nation on Election Day, but in Washington, the wave amounted to little more than a gentle crest.

Republicans did not dislodge Democrats from majorities in the state Senate or state House of Representatives, but candidates faced a testier electorate, and Democrats face shrunken majorities in both chambers.

Despite strong candidates and a favorable political environment, Republicans did not reclaim a majority in Issaquah-area statehouse seats.

Democrats and Republicans trumpeted successes in the days after Election Day, as elections offices tallied the remaining ballots for statehouse contests.

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Statehouse incumbents appear to be headed for re-election

November 2, 2010

UPDATED — 9:20 p.m. Nov. 2, 2010

Incumbents in the race to represent Issaquah in Olympia — Republicans Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne, and Democrat Judy Clibborn — pulled far ahead of opponents in initial election results released Tuesday night.

The representatives trounced little known or under-funded candidates to cruise to re-election.

Meanwhile, Democrat Marcie Maxwell appeared to be locked into a close contest against Republican Peter Dunbar to retain the state House of Representatives seat she clinched in 2008. The same scenario appeared to be the case for Democrat Randy Gordon and Republican Steve Litzow in a state Senate bout.

The measure to increase the King County sales tax rate to pay for criminal justice services trailed in early returns and a state liquor-privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco lagged.

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident and former Issaquah state senator, remained locked in a tight race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat in a close fight for a fourth term.

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Judicial candidates face tough caseload

October 12, 2010

Crammed onto the ballot alongside the marquee race for U.S. Senate and high-profile initiatives is another important decision.

The electorate in Issaquah and broad stretch of northeastern King County faces a choice next month to pick a pair of King County District judges.

The race for the Position 6 seat features appointed Judge Michael Finkle and Issaquah attorney John L. O’Brien. Redmond City Prosecutor Larry Mitchell is running against Newcastle attorney Donna Tucker for the Position 7 seat.

The contests mark the first elections for both nonpartisan positions. King County Council members — backed by the state — increased the number of District Court judges last year to address a burgeoning caseload.

District Court handles misdemeanor criminal cases, drunken driving offenses and traffic infractions, requests for domestic violence protection orders, small claims and some civil cases.

The court is on track for a record year of more than 253,000 filings by the end of December.

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Press Editorial

October 12, 2010

Tucker, O’Brien for District Court judges

Few voters know just who to vote for when it comes to judicial candidates on their ballot. The closer to home, the more important the vote is — these are the judges you may very well meet for traffic tickets to misdemeanors.

The ballots this year include four choices for two District Court positions in the Northeast Division. Both of our recommended choices — Donna Tucker and John O’Brien — are preferred for the diversity of experience they bring to the job.

Tucker and Larry Mitchell are vying for Position 7.

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Unions agree to forgo raises amid county budget crunch

September 30, 2010

NEW — 4 p.m. Sept. 30, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine and unions announced a tentative plan Thursday for almost 5,000 county employees to forgo raises next year.

The announcement came days after Constantine proposed deep service cuts and layoffs to bridge a $60 million budget gap. The decision to eschew the cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, could save the county about $8 million next year.

County Council members Julia Patterson, Larry Gossett and Issaquah-area representatives Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn — the Budget Leadership Team — praised the announcement in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

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Register to vote in November election by Monday

September 30, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 30, 2010

In order to vote in the November election, Washington residents must register to vote by Monday.

To register, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a Washington resident, at least 18 by Election Day and not under the authority of the state Department of Corrections.

Voters do not have to register by political party or declare political party membership in order to vote in primary or general elections.

Find a full list of requirements and registration forms at King County Elections.

Issaquah voters will decide legislative, judicial and congressional races in the Nov. 2 election, plus a measure to raise the county sales tax rate.

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King County budget proposal includes deep cuts

September 27, 2010

NEW — 2 p.m. Sept. 27, 2010

King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed employee layoffs and service cuts to county departments to bridge a $60 million budget shortfall.

Constantine proposed a $5 billion budget Monday — including $612.8 million for the general fund, the account used to pay for public safety and criminal justice services. Constantine has allotted more than three-fourths of the budget for safety services.

King County Council members said after years of deep cuts, only difficult decisions remain to close the spending gap. The council is due to approve a budget by late November.

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County proposes tax hike to stave off cuts

September 21, 2010

Proposed increase to generate $500,000 for Issaquah

Deep cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office budget could force the agency to shut down police storefronts — a popular crime-prevention tool in rural King County outside of Issaquah.

But the best bet to limit cuts to the sheriff’s office — a proposed sales tax increase dedicated to public safety — rankles Tom Carpenter, a resident and community leader in the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area between Issaquah and Renton.

“Why would you ever trade preventative for reactive?” he said.

The county has asked voters to raise the sales tax rate two-tenths of 1 percent, or 2 cents per $10. The measure on the Nov. 2 ballot aims to raise the sales tax from 9.5 percent to 9.7 percent in order to preserve sheriff’s deputies, county prosecutors, public defenders and court employees.

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Turnout in August election failed to meet expectations

September 7, 2010

Turnout in the August election reached the highest level for a primary in six years, but participation did not meet pre-election estimates.

The all-mail election attracted 39 percent of King County voters. King County Elections had forecast 45 percent turnout before the election. The office tallied 421,157 ballots.

The county Canvassing Board met Sept. 1 to certify the results of the Aug. 17 contest. Read more

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