King County Council Candidate Barred from Her Former County Office

By Erica C. Barnett August 3, 2010

Diana Toledo, a candidate for the King County Council seat being vacated by Jan Drago, was barred from offices on the sixth floor of the county courthouse earlier this year after she received a "proposed layoff letter" from the county, where she worked until this year as an enforcement officer at animal control. The letter told Toledo not to come back to the office unless she was on official business, and said the county "will make arrangements for you to receive all personal items that are now in your office area."

According to King County Department of Executive Services communications manager Christine Lange, county officials posted signs with Toledo's picture and instructions to call security if they saw Toledo show up unannounced. Lange said they took this measure because Toledo showed up several times after receiving her proposed layoff letter, "including instances where she accessed secured floors without an escort, which is against department policy."

"As a result of these activities, Ms. Toledo’s picture was posted in the Department Director's office and the Executive Office with instructions that she was to be asked to leave and escorted from the premises if she came in without a need to do business with the county, or without an appointment," Lange says.

Toledo has a different account. She tells PubliCola she only came in to the county courthouse a few times, always on official business, as part of the process of appealing her layoff. Toledo says she was asked to leave because she spoke out against mismanagement at the agency. After she dropped off her appeal form, Toledo says, a friend called her "saying that three security guards were called. They could have just asked me to leave."

In a records request from Toledo obtained by PubliCola, Toledo wrote, "I have heard reports from multiple King County employees that they were mortified to see my picture posted in the Director's office and Finance offices with a warning to call security if they see me. ... I have had difficulty sleeping since learning of this incident."

Toledo has three opponents in the August 17 primary: Joe McDermott, currently a Democratic member of the state Senate, South Park activist Tim Fahey, and Normandy Park city council member Shawn McEvoy.