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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


County Executive proposes steps to advance fairness and opportunity in King County

Summary

The principles of equity and social justice will be closely integrated into the practices of all agencies and branches of King County government, under an ordinance proposed to the King County Council by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Story

The principles of equity and social justice will be closely integrated into the practices of all agencies and branches of King County government, under an ordinance proposed to the King County Council by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“This ordinance ensures that equity and social justice are part of the very fabric of our daily work at King County,” said Executive Constantine. “It is the next step in advancing the efforts of county employees to remove barriers to equity.”

“Our economy depends on everyone being able to contribute, and we should remove barriers that limit the ability of some to fulfill their potential,” added Constantine. “When all can participate, we have true competition that leads to excellence.”

The proposed ordinance defines an implementation plan for the “fair and just” principle of the adopted King County Strategic Plan 2010 - 2014: Working Together for One King County. The proposal advances the work of the County’s two-year old Equity and Social Justice Initiative, which is aimed at eliminating persistent inequities across King County.

The proposal will be heard tomorrow (Tuesday) in the King County Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee.

“I am extremely proud that we are taking these bold steps in Martin Luther King Jr. County,” said County Councilmember Larry Gossett. “The proposal to integrate the Equity and Social Justice legislation into the Strategic Plan says King County government is choosing inclusion and equity-- rather than exclusion and marginalization--as one of our core guiding principles.”

"Far too often, one's race, class, or geographic location determines whether one has access to some of the most basic rights of human life, such as health, safety, education, and a living-wage job," said Councilmember Julia Patterson. "By implementing social justice and equity into the Strategic Plan, we take an important step forward to ensure County government carries out its day-to-day operations in a way that treats everyone equally –
regardless of the color of their skin, their income, or where they live in King County."

In the last two years, all executive departments have taken concrete steps, based on annual commitments, to address equity and social justice. Managers and supervisors in executive departments have been trained in equity and social justice, as have all current staff in the Executive office.

Constantine said he supports practices that contribute to fair and just conditions for all, as applied to the county’s actions in siting and delivering of services; policy development and decision making; education and communication within county government; and community engagement and partnerships.

The King County Strategic Plan defines “fair and just” as serving “all residents of King County by promoting fairness and opportunity and eliminating inequities." The proposed ordinance provides the framework for implementing those principles, including:


• Integration of equity and social justice practices into the county’s strategic, operational and business plans; management and reporting systems for accountability and performance; and budgets.


• Establishment of an inter-branch team to include all agencies and branches of county government to facilitate accountability for and collaborate on equity and social justice work across county government.


• Reporting annually to King County elected leadership, employees and the public on status and trends in equity and results related to implementation of the ordinance.

While King County ranks high in overall quality of life compared to other jurisdictions, inequities between populations in our county are even larger in some cases than in counties of similar size and demographics. These inequities impact the quality of life of all residents as well as increase the demand for, and cost of providing, government services.

“This ordinance will make it easier to use the Strategic Plan as a guide in our daily work with each other and with the public, so that considerations of equity and social justice help us improve all county operations,” said Executive Constantine.


Related information

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography