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Opinion

Guest Column

County Council news from District One

County Council, District One  by Maggi Fimia, District 1, Metropolitan King County Council
Here are some highlights about recent County Council decisions and other county news:
   Election for Sheriff: I voted against placing an amendment on the November ballot to change the King County Charter to elect rather than appoint the sheriff. Some residents are unhappy with county police response time; they believe an elected sheriff could lobby for more resources to increase county police staffing and reduce response times. However, the King County Council oversees the sheriff's budget; this is why we were able to replace 26 of the 34 positions that Executive Locke proposed eliminating last year in response to annexations and incorporations.
   It is the view of many that jobs that require skill should be appointive and jobs that require primarily representation be elective. The King County Department of Public Safety has an annual budget of $71 million and employs 838 officers under the direction of the Sheriff-Director. This complex organization with specialized units and a work force more educated than ever before (42% have completed at least two years of college) needs to be run by a professional equally educated and qualified.
   The ordinance to make the position an elected one asks only that the candidate be 21 years of age and a resident and registered voter of King County. This opens the field to every registered voter in King County and eliminates qualified candidates from throughout the country. Without the competition to compete for the most qualified candidate, King County risks the loss of the best possible candidate for the office.
   The county moved to the appointment of a sheriff in 1968 partly because of corruption within the department. Reporting to the executive ensures an additional level of accountability and timely removal should that be necessary.
   We need to ask the question, what problems are we trying to solve? Faster response times, more backup for our officers? The present structure can address those needs. An elected sheriff will be faced with the same problems of lack of resources and increasing demands as an appointed sheriff. The danger is, he or she might not have adequate experience, expertise or dollars to address them.
   Redistricting: The King County Redistricting Committee completed its work earlier this month. I am delighted to welcome Bothell and Olympic Hill to District One.
   Computer Grant for At-Risk Youth: The Center for Human Services was among 12 community organizations in the county to receive a King County Youth Computing Grant. The center was awarded a grant of $19,742 which it will use for computer programs at its Shoreline and University District locations.
   At-risk youth in the Shoreline area who are participating in the Center's Genesis Education Program will be able to use the computers daily from 9-5. This will help disadvantaged youth gain computer skills and access to online information, as well as to increase their academic skills.
   Interurban Trail: I met with the Mayor of Seattle's office to talk about creating the missing link in the county's regional trail system. The proposed Interurban Trail runs from Everett to south Seattle; it has the potential to provide recreational walkers, joggers, bikers, and non-motorized commuters the same significant benefits as the Burke-Gilman Trail.
   Negotiations are moving forward on the portion of the trail which runs along the Seattle City Light right-of-way, between the King/Snohomish County line and the City of Seattle/Shoreline boundary at NE 145th. The county and city hope to have an agreement settled by July of this year.
   Special Recycling Event: The King County Solid Waste Division is holding special recycling events in Shoreline and Bothell on Saturday, June 8.
   Residents can drop off a variety of reusable and recyclable materials, including scrap metal, appliances, ceramic toilets and sinks, car tires (off rims), car batteries, #6 plastic food containers, bulky wood waste, reusable household goods (furniture, toys, etc.), and reusable or recyclable textiles. There is a $5 fee for toilets and $15 for appliances containing CFC's. Call the recycling information line at 296-4466 for more information.
   Bothell residents can recycle at Bothell High School from 9 to 4. Shoreline residents can recycle at the Shoreline Park & Ride lot (N. 192nd and Aurora Ave. N.) also from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   Please contact me (296-1001) about these or other issues that are important to you, or call my District Office at 542-1604.