King County Executive Dow Constantine spoke to the 41st LD Democrats Wednesday night.
He said that King County is the 13th largest county in the country. It has a population of over 2,000,000 people, making it more populous than 13 or 14 states (each of which has two US senators). King County accounts for about half the state’s economy, measured by payroll. But 180,000 King County residents have no health care insurance.
Most of the questions to Constantine concerned the transit budget.
King County and Metro Transit were seeking authority from the state legislature to raise the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, to fund Metro Transit, which will otherwise have to reduce service next year by up to 17%. But the state senate, under control of Republicans and DINO Rodney Tom, rejected the transportation budget passed by the state House. (See House Bill 1954, House Bill 1955, and It’s time to get organized about transit!.)
Someone asked Constantine whether the county has other options for funding transit. Constantine said that they do have authority to seek a sales tax and increased license fees, both those sources of revenue are more regressive than the MVET.
Constantine said that we must refuse to “be dragged down by right wing ideology.” “Shame on us for getting run over by crazy right wingers.”
I asked whether business need for transportation would enable to supporters of public transit and other transportation funding to overcome the Republican senate’s opposition to the transportation bill. He said that many business people are reasonably progressive in their views when you talk to them, but the various business groups have a long tradition of anti-tax mentality, and it will be difficult to overcome that.
State Rep. Marcie Maxwell was cheered by the members of the 41st LD Democrats for her work in the legislature. She is resigning her House seat to take up a position as senior education adviser to Gov. Inslee. On Aug 21 the PCOs will select three candidates to replace Rep. Maxwell. The King County Council will select from those three candidates the person to serve the rest of Rep. Mawell’s term, which expires in 2014.
In 2010 the precinct committee officers (PCOs) of the 41st Dems made a similar election of a replacement for State Senator Fred Jarret, who went to work as an assistant to King County Executive Dow Constantine. In 2010 the PCOs elected Randy Gordon as their first choice, and the King County Council selected Gordon as senator. Unfortunately, Gordon was defeated in the election later that year by Steve Litzow, largely because of funding from Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.
Rep. Maxwell encouraged the PCOs to select candidates who are “electable.” Presumably, that means that the candidates should be moderate enough to get elected (though the district certainly does not have a tradition of choosing radicals), as well as capable of raising funds.
At most LD meetings there are one or two people get appointed (almost always by unanimous vote) as appointed PCOs. Today, half a dozen people were appointed PCOs. None of their faces were familiar — which suggests that there are plans in the works to tilt the election. Several people also appeared at the meeting for the first time in many months, expressing interest in Maxwell’s seat.
On August 14, 7pm-9pm, a candidate forum among people interested in filling Maxwell’s seat will be held at King County Library Service Center, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah WA.