Council receives State of the County Address from Executive Constantine
The members of the Metropolitan King County Council said today they are prepared to continue to work with County Executive Dow Constantine on the 21st Century challenges facing King County, including the challenges of inequality and climate change. Constantine presented the Council his plans at the start of his second term in office during his State of the County Address at White Center Heights Elementary School, the first State of County Address in Unincorporated King County.
“King County has much to be proud of, including receiving a 2014 Innovations in American Government Award for containing employee healthcare costs, and keeping cost increases to the rate of inflation plus population growth,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “I applaud Executive Constantine for his leadership, yet, as he pointed out, to make King County a place where all people can thrive, there’s much work ahead to improve equity, respond to climate change, and fund our transportation needs.”
“Executive Constantine emphasized the need to ensure our youth are well supported in early childhood education, K-12 education, and beyond to keep King County vibrant and successful,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, who represents White Center on the County Council. “We look forward to continued cooperation on youth and young adult homelessness and other ways to ensure this achievement.”
“I agree with the Executive that that we need ‘equity and opportunity’ for all residents of King County,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “We need continued focus, with our regional partners, to deliver quality services that keep families healthy, keep high skilled jobs in the region and make education accessible to fill those jobs.”
Constantine applauded Councilmembers and other County officials in working together to create a government that has met the challenges of the last four years. Even as the County was working to climb out of the Great Recession, Constantine said collaboration with the Council allowed the County to establish the Youth and Young Adult Homelessness Initiative as well as develop the Youth Action Plan recently adopted by the Council.
“It’s exciting to be part of a county government that is winning awards such as the 2014 Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, awarded for our Healthy Incentives Program,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, chair of the Council’s Law Justice, Health and Human Services Committee. “The Executive’s speech recounted the promises made and promises kept to improve King County government. Much progress has been made. He set goals for next steps as we continue to work together to improve the quality of life for our residents and to lead nationally in many areas of problem solving.”
“I commend Executive Constantine for his continued work toward making sure everyone in King County has the opportunity to succeed,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “I was glad that the Executive highlighted the unacceptable inequities that exist in King County, especially among our greatest assets -- our kids. For example, as Highline School District Superintendent Susan Enfield stated in her welcoming remarks, only 15 percent of the Kindergartners at White Center Heights Elementary School were performing at-grade on day one of school. These unjust inequities are why I wrote the King County Youth Action Plan ordinance (Ordinance 2013-0420), which the council adopted earlier this year. I look forward to working with the Executive to implement this legislation, which renews King County’s commitment to making sure that 100 percent of our kids have an equal shot at success.”
As he begins his second term, Constantine urged the Council to work with him on building “Equity and Opportunity” for all residents of King County and developing solutions for climate change, the effects of which are felt by every County resident.
While King County enjoys one of the highest qualities of life in the nation, Constantine acknowledged there are challenges for many communities within the region. Constantine said he wants to work with the Council in developing thriving communities that will “increase graduation rates, reduce incarceration rates and prepare a workforce ready to fill high-skill jobs.” To do that the Executive is prepared to work with the Council on:
- Closing the Kindergarten Gap through the creation of a cohesive system of support around young families so their children will be ready to learn when they arrive for Kindergarten,
- Working to make homelessness relatively rare, short in duration and easily solved through collaborative efforts between the County, non-profit agencies and philanthropists to develop Rapid Re-Housing programs and in partnership with cities to construct affordable housing,
- Community reentry from Detention by coordinating reentry projects aimed at reducing recidivism and by working with the state Department of Corrections in developing strategies to connect those leaving incarceration with services in their communities to support their reentry.
On the challenge of climate change, Constantine told the Council that along with directing the King County Department of Natural Resource and Parks to become King County’s first carbon-neutral agency, that he will call for the establishment of a business-focused alliance of clean-tech businesses, environmental groups, universities and non-profits to elevate the County as a center for clean technology innovation, training and jobs. Constantine will also work with cities throughout the Northwest to stop the export of coal to Asia.
“The Executive’s State of the County Address this morning clearly laid out his vision for the future of King County,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “As we begin a new year I look forward to working with the Executive’s Office and my colleagues on the Council to meet the needs of all our constituents.”
Constantine finished his address by calling on the Council to continue its efforts to find the funding needed to maintain Metro Transit service and repairing the County’s crumbling transportation infrastructure while adopting a reduced fare program for those transit riders who need it.
King County TV will re-broadcast today’s State of the County Address at the following times:
Monday, February 10
Tuesday, February 11
Wednesday, February 12
For additional times, check the KCTV online schedule: http://www.kingcounty.gov/KCTV/schedule.aspx.
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