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County Councilmembers form suburban caucus

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In the November 2008 election, King County voters made it clear that when it comes to county politics, they want a change from business as usual by making the county executive, county council, and assessor nonpartisan offices. In response to the voters’ directive, Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Bob Ferguson are forming a nonpartisan caucus to address regional issues impacting suburban areas.

According to Dunn and Ferguson, the new suburban caucus will provide Council members with the opportunity to consider strategy for addressing regional issues, including transportation, public safety, and public health. Caucuses provide legislative body members with the chance to meet in small groups and debate issues in an informal setting. Membership was customarily based on party affiliation.

“The voters have spoken and they’ve told us that they are tired of the old partisan ways of doing business,” said Dunn, originally elected as a Republican to what is now a nonpartisan seat. “There are many issues where geography plays an important role in our decision making process. If we want to truly make the transition to nonpartisanship, I think it’s important that we begin to change how we talk to each other.”

“Councilmember Dunn approached me with the idea of forming a nonpartisan caucus late last year, and I appreciate his leadership on this issue,” said Ferguson, originally elected as a Democrat to what is now a nonpartisan seat representing North Seattle and the suburban cities of Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, and parts of Woodinville. “A suburban caucus is an important first step for organizing and managing our work in a nonpartisan environment.”

“The formation of regional caucuses will ensure that issues of concern to specific constituencies and geographic areas will get the scrutiny and attention they deserve,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents suburban and rural areas in Northeast King County. “This will allow time for more in-depth information to be shared on a regular basis. I have long thought this is a much better way to organize for more flexibility in ideas and the dissemination of information.”

“Although we are regional leaders, some issues affect our districts in different ways. For instance, floods plague cities in Northeast King County, and airport-related pollution and noise affect South King County communities,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, whose district includes the cities of Renton, Kent, Tukwila, Des Moines and SeaTac. “These issues can benefit from regular, informal meetings among council members whose constituents share similar concerns. Caucusing as suburban, urban, and rural representatives allows for open, frank discussions where issues are addressed and problems get solved.”

“As the Council representative for Burien, Normandy Park, and parts of Tukwila and SeaTac, I hope that this caucus gives us a forum for the discussion of issues of common concern,” said Council Chair Dow Constantine.

Members of the suburban caucus will meet monthly or more frequently as issues arise. The caucus is open to all members of the Council.


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