execsinnorthbend.jpg
This your idea of fun? Then it's two times the excitement this week!
Politics is a lot like sports. Free agents (consultants) bail on foundering

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For Political Junkies: Back-to-Back County Exec Forums

execsinnorthbend.jpg
This your idea of fun? Then it's two times the excitement this week!
Politics is a lot like sports. Free agents (consultants) bail on foundering candidates for teams with better chances in the post-season (i.e. after the Aug. 18 primary). Fans carefully comb stats (fundraising) for signs of weakness. There's even betting on the outcomes, though I'm not telling where my money is.

All this to say, most serious political junkies are starting to find their friends abandoning them as they ramble on and on about whether Dow Constantine's support among young voters makes him look stronger than he is in light of that demographic's notoriously low turnout. Not to worry, fellow wonks. Tonight is the first of two interest-group-sponsored, exec-candidate forums--and in a shortened week! What's more, someone may finally get Susan Hutchison to address the issue of reproductive rights.

Abortion is a likely topic at tonight's League of Women Voters forum at Horizon House Performance Hall (900 University, 7:30 p.m.). Impressively, Susan Hutchison will be putting in an appearance tonight. She's been dodging questions about her political affiliation and strongly partisan issue in this newly non-partisan race. As Mark Fefer and Crosscut's Chris Vance have pointed out in her defense, the Executive position deals more with things like sewer management and law enforcement anyway, which don't have as stringent Democratic/Republican lines.

That said, Hutchison's stance on abortion (and the surrounding reproductive health issues) isn't irrelevant. The county dedicates about 8 percent of the nearly $660 million general fund to public health, including family planning programs. In a year where another $45 million or so needs to be cut from the general fund, Hutchison (and the rest of the candidates) should be forced to say exactly what they would cut and why. So questioning people on their abortion stance makes sense as long as it's put into a county-specific context.

The second is going to be all environment all the time. The Washington Environmental Council is hosting a forum tomorrow at Town Hall (1119 8th Ave.) at 7 p.m.

As Vance notes, no one really seems to be talking public safety, which is going to be a big deal in the next budget cycle. But he's wrong when he asserts that most decisions with regard to land use policy have been made. Last year the state court of appeals threw out much of the development restrictions on rural land created by the Critical Areas Ordinance.

State law requires a CAO, which means that dramatically reformulating ours to fit within the scope of the Appellate Court's ruling (the state Supreme Court declined to an additional appeal), will be on the next Executive's plate. Again, this is the kind of thing where moderator's should be forcing the candidates to drill down beyond basic "I love the environment" platitudes. Unfortunately, the event description emphasizes Puget Sound and transit-oriented housing. There's not a mention of the CAO.

Maybe we'll get lucky and there will be a knock-down, drag-out, general fund budget management forum next week. A wonk can dream....

 
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