The King County election nobody has heard about — still

Let’s conserve some stuff (Image: King County)

In 2019, CHS called it the King County election nobody has heard about. In 2021, we’re pretty sure you still haven’t.

There’s an open seat again on the King County Conservation District board and the vote, unlike any other civic election you can currently participate in, happens online. You can learn more — and cast your ballot — here.

The district works “directly with private landowners to care for the land and resources” that helps “farmers and other landowners voluntarily preserve and enhance our natural resources through cost-sharing, education and technical assistance.”

Eight people are vying for the six-member board’s Position 3.

  • Kali Clark
  • Melissa Tatro
  • Wayne Gullstad
  • Brittney Bush Bollay
  • Doug Hennick
  • David Toledo
  • John Comerford
  • Natalie Reber

Happy voting.

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King County Regional Homelessness Authority has finally chosen a leader

The body charged with the hopes of creating a truly regional response to the Seattle-area homelessness crisis finally has a leader.

Thursday, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority announced Regina Cannon as its first Chief Executive Officer.

Regina Cannon has more than 18 years of experience leading anti-poverty initiatives addressing homelessness, supportive housing, criminal justice reform, community capacity building, and youth leadership development. She currently serves as the Chief Equity and Impact Officer at the Center for Social Innovation, also known as C4 Innovation where she leads C4 Innovations’ internal and external equity and impact initiatives and directs the SPARC: Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities initiative.
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‘4/5ths’ — County proposal would make big loan to help patch part of $300M financing hole in Seattle’s massive, nearly complete convention center expansion

Crews pouring the roof deck at the Summit Addition last week at the Washington State Convention Center (Image: Lease Crutcher Lewis)

The developer of the massive convention center expansion under construction downtown says the project is seeking help from the the city, the state, and the county in patching a $300 million hole in its finances from the COVID-19 crisis. Thursday, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced he will step forward first with a proposed $100 million loan for the project from cash part of the county’s $3.4 billion investment pool.

But the city, and the state will have to follow suit, apparently.

“No, this is not enough,” Matt Griffin of developer Pine Street Group said in a press conference Thursday to discuss the proposed $100 million loan.

Constantine called the loan proposal on the “4/5ths” completed Washington State Convention Center expansion project “a safe investment.” Continue reading

How King County Sheriff’s Office charter amendment votes on your November ballot can also change policing in Seattle

Girmay Zahilay thinks next month’s election is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for changing the way Seattle communities police themselves, but not in the way you might think.

The debate for months locally has been around the Seattle City Council’s moves to defund the police and shift some functions, such as 911 operations and parking enforcement, out of the department. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan King County Council has no such authority to change the ways law enforcement works at the county level.

The first step in improving how the King County Sheriff’s Office works, county councilmember Zahilay argues, is through a charter amendment on the ballot next month that grants the council the ability to decrease the department of public safety’s duties

“All of these structural barriers create a situation where, yeah, we can do budgetary sticks and carrots, but we can’t really have the true accountability and the true innovation to public safety like other jurisdictions can,” Zahilay told CHS. Continue reading

King County raises sales tax in plan to create more homeless housing

The King County Council voted Tuesday to add a 0.1% sales tax expected to raise around $70 million a year to fund housing for people experiencing long-term homelessness.

When proposed by Executive Dow Constantine in September, the plan was hoped to raise more than five times as much funding in a regional approach to addressing the region’s ongoing homelessness crisis. Instead, cities like Issaquah and Bellevue moving quickly to opt out of the plan and implement their own taxes, Continue reading

King County $41M rental assistance and eviction prevention hoped to help low income tenants — and their landlords — make it through 2020

King County hopes a $41 million program to help renters and both large-scale and small, individual landlords can help stave off eviction for between 7,000 and 10,000 low income households during the COVID-19 crisis.

Executive Dow Constantine announced the rental assistance and eviction prevention proposal for “individual tenants, large and small property managers and landlords, and mobile home parks” Thursday and the county is taking feedback on the plan through the end of the month before rolling it out.

The county proposal includes four categories of funding to address “several approaches to serve as many households as possible, as quickly as possible” — Continue reading

‘We can move our secure perimeter’ — 12th Ave’s new Children and Family Justice Center designed for hopes of a shrinking youth jail population

With colors, murals, game tables, and art that make the new facility feel like a cross between a new high school and juvenile hall, King County is showing off its new Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center on 12th Ave.

It is also designed, officials say, to slowly transform.

“As we move toward zero youth detention, how we can repurpose space?” one official said during a tour of the new facility’s detention area. “As our population decreases,” she said in the middle of one of the center’s living halls designed to look like dorms but secured for incarceration with electronic locks and state of the art surveillance systems, “we can move our secure perimeter.” Continue reading

Proposal would allow a $121M King County tax on big businesses to pay for housing, homelessness

Sawant made the Tax Amazon movement the centerpiece of her inauguration and start of a third term. A state proposal would open the door to a tax on “big business” at the county level.

As the rumble has started again for a tax on large employers in Seattle, Capitol Hill’s State Representative in Olympia has proposed a bill that could take the push for revenue to support housing and homelessness services to a new level.

Rep. Nicole Macri is co-sponsoring a bill that would allow King County “to impose an excise tax on business.”

The state proposal would actually open up the option to any county with a population over 2 million — right now, that would be King County.

“The thing I am interested in is something that will allow for more of a regional approach on addressing homelessness, housing and behavioral health needs than what the current authority allows,” Macri told Crosscut about the proposed legislation.

Fellow 43rd District Rep. Frank Chopp is also a co-sponsor.

The Seattle Times reports that Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine support the bill.

Durkan and Constantine said the tax could raise $121 million per year “for housing, homelessness, public safety, and behavioral health services across the region.” Continue reading

Zahilay to chair King County Council’s Law & Justice committee

Capitol Hill’s newly sworn-in King County Council representative Girmay Zahilay will chair the body’s Law and Justice committee.

The council sorted out its 2020 committee assignments in votes Wednesday. The council also unanimously elected former Bellevue mayor Claudia Balducci as its chair.

Zahilay took his oath of office prior to Wednesday’s vote in his first day of meetings on the council. He was sworn-in during a ceremony in December at Franklin High School.

CHS reported here on the race between Zahilay and incumbent Larry Gossett for the civil rights icon’s seat on the council in which the political upstart achieved a solid victory.

Zahilay, who was born in Sudan after his parents fled Ethiopia in the 1980s and arrived in Seattle as a refugee when he was three, grew up in Holly Park and Rainier Vista and graduated from Franklin before going on to Stanford University and law school. He then worked in Washington D.C. and New York City before returning to Seattle to be an attorney for Perkins Coie.

Zahilay now represents District 2 representing the Central District, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, the Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Skyway, the University District, Fremont, Ravenna, and Laurelhurst.

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With Seattle approval, King County Regional Homelessness Authority will take shape in 2020

The Seattle City Council, with strings attached, approved its part of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority Monday paving the way for the effort to launch next year.

CHS reported last week on an ordinance shaped by the council to enable the city to pull out portions of its planned $73 million in funding for the $132 million new county authority hoped to reorganize how homelessness services are planned and deployed across the county. Continue reading