Reagan Dunn faces two challengers in Aug. 18 primary
August 13, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Candidates in the race for the District 9 County Council seat are touting their credentials as reformers ahead of the Aug. 18 primary election.
Incumbent Councilman Reagan Dunn, elected to the post in November 2005, will face challengers Beverly Harison Tonda, a Maple Valley corporate trainer, and Newcastle playwright Mark Greene, as he seeks a second full term.
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.
District 9 includes large swaths of unincorporated King County south of Issaquah, as well as Bellevue, Newcastle and Renton.
Council positions are nonpartisan posts.
County officials face a $56 million shortfall in a budget of about $627 million. Metro Transit also faces a $200 million deficit over the next two years.
Dunn emphasized his record as a councilman and his willingness to slash spending to fix the budget problem.
“I am the No. 1 reformer in King County government,” he said.
The incumbent said officials should consider cutting county employees’ salaries and benefits in order to confront budget woes. Dunn, a former U.S. Justice Department official, said the county should focus on and protect existing services, such as courts, law enforcement and public safety.
“We need to get back to the basics,” he added.
Dunn also emphasized his opposition to raising and levying taxes. In 2007, he was the sole member of the nine-person council to vote against a countywide property tax to pay for foot ferries. The plan to add ferry service to Lake Washington has since run aground in the tough budget climate.
“I want to ensure the county can manage its budget by living within its means,” Dunn said.
Tonda said she could use her corporate background to mediate between King County officials and taxpayers. She described herself as an effective communicator, and said her skills as a corporate negotiator could help her bridge the divide.
“It’s time for a change in King County, and I’m the type of person who can do that,” she said.
She also addressed transportation issues; Tonda said King County officials should focus on improving transportation infrastructure to improve the quality of life for residents and to make the area more attractive to businesses.
As part of her plan to attract jobs, Tonda said the county Department of Development and Environmental Services should be restructured in order to streamline the process for businesses seeking to relocate to King County.
She highlighted a concern of local and state leaders seeking to retain major employers amid the recession.
“If Boeing moved out, we’d have to entice people to come in,” Tonda said.
Greene has campaigned unsuccessfully for several political posts. His most recent bid was for Washington secretary of state last year.
He blamed incumbent council members for budget problems.
“The county is in a financial mess and this is basically the result of the King County Council and other officials being unable to manage the budget,” Greene said.
He suggested levying a specialized sales tax on luxury items, such as limousines and yachts, as a way to generate revenue for struggling King County. He also proposed the creation of a Department of Grievances, Solutions and Whistleblowers to audit county finances and generate ideas to raise revenue.
“We need ways to get more revenue from the more affluent members of our society,” he said.
Though council posts are nonpartisan, Greene is running for the seat as a member of a political party he founded, the Party of Commons. The group “is economically progressive, generally culturally traditional, pro-Bill of Rights, non-interventionist and believes in common sense defense, not policing the world,” according to a statement on the party Web site.
“I think that the public deserves choices,” Greene said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.