Best Local Politician

Dow Constantine

Thirty years ago, Dow Constantine was a UW student, working toward a poli-sci degree and spinning the latest punk and new-wave discs on KCMU. In the mid-'90s, he was an aide to then-King County Councilman Greg Nickels. By 2001, a state senator representing West Seattle, his lifelong home. Now, KCMU is KEXP and he's your King County Executive, having brushed aside an overmatched Susan Hutchison in 2009 to continue the progressive, pragmatic legacy of predecessors Gary Locke and Ron Sims. In the two years since, he's displayed genuine leadership, facing a budget crisis head-on, dealing with a projected $60 million deficit by making painful but necessary cuts, convincing more than 90 percent of county employees to give up cost-of-living raises, and striving to maximize efficiencies. Just as important, he's worked behind the scenes to change the culture in county government, seeking out waste and redundancy and instituting performance-based standards, all while continuing to fight for environmental protection, social justice, and regional transit improvements. Throughout, he's remained accountable, accessible, low-key, and down-to-earth, without the egocentrism and sense of entitlement too often prevalent in elected officials. A decade from now? Don't be surprised if he's governing this state—or representing it in the other Washington. MICHAEL MAHONEY

 
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