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King County Council Position 9: PubliCola Picks Reagan Dunn

By PublicolaPicks August 3, 2009

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Incumbent King County Council member Reagan Dunn (a Republican, although King County elected positions are now officially nonpartisan) is the most qualified candidate in this race.

Dunn, a former assistant U.S. attorney, is a charismatic and popular politician with aspirations for higher office (state attorney general and U.S. Congress).

Dunn is a moderate Republican who represents his rural and suburban district with pragmatism and a splash of libertarianism. He passed a bipartisan package that streamlined the county’s building permit program and lowered permitting fees, and he amended the controversial critical areas ordinance, providing tax credits to affected landowners and establishing a citizens' oversight committee.

Dunn, who was rated “outstanding” by the Seattle/King County Municipal League, isn't the most active or creative legislator, but he works well with his colleagues, particularly on his efforts to reform the Department of Development and Environmental Services.

His main challenger, bank trainer Beverly Harison Tonda, describes herself as a Republican and Sarah Palin fan who voted for Obama (and she says she likes Fred Jarrett in the County Executive’s race.) She is locked down in a land use fight centering on her neighborhood in Maple Valley and feels that Dunn hasn’t supported her cause and has “ignored” his constituents. County Council staff report that Tonda routinely bombards them with emails on the issue.

Tonda’s advocacy on this issue does not qualify her for the council job. She received a “Good” rating from the Seattle Municipal League.

A third candidate, Mark Greene, who started his own political party in 2006—the Party of Commons—and appointed himself chair, was rated “Adequate.”

It’s surprising that the state Democratic Party has not recruited a strong candidate to challenge Dunn. His district—which tacks south from Bellevue through Renton, Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Enumclaw, and sweeps southeast into rural King County, has its share of Democratic (and even liberal) representatives in Olympia. (Reps. Geoff Simpson and Pat Sullivan come to mind.)

PubliCola picks Reagan Dunn.
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