Skip to main content
Most King County offices will be closed on Monday, for Memorial Day.  
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


National policy experts and local leaders praise Executive Constantine's strategic plan to confront inequity

Summary

The strategic plan to build equity and opportunity in King County created by Executive Constantine is being praised by community leaders and national policy experts as a model to confront inequity. It's a six-year plan for King County to transform all operations to advance equity in key areas of government.

Story

National policy experts and local leaders praised the King County Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan created by Executive Dow Constantine in collaboration with all county agencies and more than 100 community partners, calling it a national model to confronting inequity.

It's a six-year plan for King County to transform all operations to advance equity in key areas, including transportation, criminal justice, housing, jobs and economic development, child and youth development, digital equity, climate and the environment, and more.

“We are empowering our talented workforce and strengthening our valuable partnerships to create a more just, equitable and inclusive community,” said Executive Constantine. “The strategic plan we created will guide our united work to confront inequity and ensure that every person in our region has the opportunity to thrive.”

Under the plan, the county will focus resources and investments upstream, positioning more youth and families to succeed and decreasing the demand for services needed to respond to negative outcomes, such as homelessness, substance abuse and incarceration. It will also focus on the people and places in King County where needs are the greatest, particularly in communities of color where there are the greatest disparities in health and well-being outcomes.

'An important example for how local governments can build communities that allow everyone to participate and prosper'

Policy and economic development experts who study how local and state governments promote equity and social justice say King County’s strategic plan is a leading example.

“As the nation heads toward a multiracial future in the face of skyrocketing inequality, fostering inclusive growth is a moral and economic imperative for cities and regions,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, president and CEO of PolicyLink. “By focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable and baking equity into every function of county government, King County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan sets an important example for how local governments can build communities that allow everyone to participate and prosper.”

“Increasing evidence shows that economies that are more equitable achieve more sustainable long-run growth,” said Alan Berube, senior fellow and deputy director at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, and co-author of Confronting Suburban Poverty in America. “King County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan represents a leading example of how regions can advance policies and practices that contribute to expanded opportunity for all.”

“In developing and releasing this plan, once again King County government offers a model for jurisdictions around the country who understand that equity and social justice is the answer to many of the challenges that the nation faces related to racism, class exclusion, and other destructive social hierarchies,” said Brian Smedley, executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity.

Addressing the specific needs in King County

Local elected officials and community leaders say the strategic plan addresses the specific needs in King County communities.

"There is just so much that is right with this plan,” said Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, who is president of Sound Cities Association. “The Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan is comprehensive, proactive and allows opportunities for community input. It allows for leadership growth at all levels and the long-term effect includes greater economic development for the county. I commend Executive Constantine and the King County Councilmembers for their vision.”

“King County needs to be responsive to and guided by voices in the community in order to be successful, and the Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan lays out a strong path for doing this and transforming local government,” said Sili Savusa, co-chair of the Regional Equity Network and executive director of the White Center Community Development Association. “Just like many of us were involved in the development of this plan, community organizations and residents need to continue to be involved in improving how King County does all of its business, or else our communities lose.”

“As the community’s foundation, Seattle Foundation is keenly aware that ensuring equity and opportunity for all is necessary to sustain a healthy economy and region," said Tony Mestres, president and CEO of Seattle Foundation. "These complex challenges require all of our sectors to work more effectively and in collaboration with internal and external partners. With the development of its Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan, King County government provides a model for going beyond good intentions and siloed efforts, and this is the precise work Seattle Foundation fully supports."



Building on initial action

The strategic plan recommends building on the action that King County has taken in recent years to address some of the most startling inequities documented in the United States.

  • Increasing investments in prevention and early intervention strategies with Best Starts for Kids, a six-year levy approved by King County voters last November. Considered the most comprehensive approach to children and youth development in the nation, Best Starts for Kids will increase the number of children and youth who reach adulthood healthy, motivated and ready to succeed.
  • Ten percent of Best Starts for Kids funds will support Communities of Opportunity, a partnership between King County and Seattle Foundation that empowers local residents in neighborhoods most impacted by inequities by specifically addressing their unique needs.
  • To connect more people to opportunities, Executive Constantine last year launched ORCA LIFT, the nation’s leading reduced-fare transit program for passengers who earn lower incomes.

The Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan also calls for investing in King County’s workforce to ensure that each of its 14,000 employees are valued for their insight, assets, and deep understanding of the community they serve. King County will also be taking specific actions to make its workforce more racially diverse at all levels, especially leadership.

To ensure accountability and transparent leadership, the county will measure, track, and publicly report its progress in the eight policy areas and six goals outlined in the strategic plan.


Quotes

Policy experts who study the different ways that local and state governments promote equity and social justice say King County’s strategic plan is a leading example. 

Green/Duwamish Watershed Strategy

We are empowering our talented workforce and strengthening our valuable partnerships to create a more just, equitable and inclusive community. The strategic plan we created will guide our united work to confront inequity and ensure that every person in our region has the opportunity to thrive.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive
Angela Glover Blackwell

As the nation heads toward a multiracial future in the face of skyrocketing inequality, fostering inclusive growth is a moral and economic imperative for cities and regions. By focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable and baking equity into every function of county government, King County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan sets an important example for how local governments can build communities that allow everyone to participate and prosper.

Angela Glover Blackwell, President and CEO, PolicyLink
Alan Berube

Increasing evidence shows that economies that are more equitable achieve more sustainable long-run growth. King County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan represents a leading example of how regions can advance policies and practices that contribute to expanded opportunity for all.

Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, The Bookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program
Brian Smedley

In developing and releasing this plan, once again King County government offers a model for jurisdictions around the country who understand that equity and social justice is the answer to many of the challenges that the nation faces related to racism, class exclusion, and other destructive social hierarchies.

Brian Smedley, Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity
Nancy Backus

There is just so much that is right with this plan. The Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan is comprehensive, proactive, and allows opportunities for community input. It allows for leadership growth at all levels, and the long-term effect includes greater economic development for the County. I commend Executive Constantine and the King County Councilmembers for their vision.

Nancy Backus, Auburn Mayor, and President, Sound Cities Association
Sili Savusa

King County needs to be responsive to and guided by voices in the community in order to be successful, and the Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan lays out a strong path for doing this and transforming local government. Just like many of us were involved in the development of this plan, community organizations and residents need to continue to be involved in improving how King County does all of its business, or else our communities lose.

Sili Savusa, Co-Chair, Regional Equity Network, and Executive Director, White Center Community Development Association
Tony Mestres

As the community’s foundation, Seattle Foundation is keenly aware that ensuring equity and opportunity for all is necessary to sustain a healthy economy and region. These complex challenges require all of our sectors to work more effectively and in collaboration with internal and external partners. With the development of its Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan, King County government provides a model for going beyond good intentions and siloed efforts, and this is the precise work Seattle Foundation fully supports.

Tony Mestres, President and CEO, Seattle Foundation

Relevant links


For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography