After the slowest roll out in history, King County Council Member Larry Phillips finally made it official and declared his candidacy for King County Executive at a 9am press conference at the Labor Temple in Bell Town.
The typically loud and jumpy Phillips (he can come across like a Muppet sometimes), was uncharacteristically humble, reserved, and well, well-spoken, as he talked about "daunting challenges" and the "seemingly endless" run of bad news.
The theme of the speech was "focus"—a word he used as much this morning as Obama used "Change" throughout all of 2008. "I will bring focus, direction, and commitment," he said.
I asked him if the County had lost "focus"—by the way, Phillips has been on the County Council since 1991—and he said, "In the last several years the County has lost focus. It's taken us too long to get things done."
Specifically, he mentioned light rail, which finally queued up for expansion after last year's public vote. Phillips was active on that campaign and as a Sound Transit board member, he helped get the issue on the ballot.
Current incumbent, Ron Sims, also a Sound Transit board member, has turned on light rail in favor of bus rapid transit in recent years and cast an awkward vote against the final light rail package in a 16-2 roll call. Phillips directly called out that vote and Sims' meandering on light rail, saying: "At the critical moment of moving that forward, when it was time to take the next step, we lost our focus." Although, he didn't name Sims.
In another dig at Sims? Phillips said, "I'm going to be here everyday." Not clear if he was referencing a gotch ya check on Sims' calendar or on the word that Sims is gazing on DC.
Seattle Times reporter Keth Ervin asked if Phillips had any major initiatives or agenda items to push. Phillips did not. In his announcement, however, he claimed several past accomplishments: "Expanding parks;" "lending a hand to the most vulnerable;" "balancing budgets;" "being an architect of the growth management act;" and "light rail."
If Sims does take a job in DC, as well-informed sources have told me he's going to do, Phillips first campaign may be for the five votes necessary on the Council to get appointed to Sims' seat.