City of Kent

City of Kent

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Welcome to the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide to the 2021 primary election! The Progressive Voters Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. You can learn about our partners and decision-making process here. Please share this guide with your friends and family!

King County Ballot Measures

King County County Proposition #1

  • VOTE APPROVED
    Vote to APPROVE Best Starts For Kids
  • King County Proposition 1 offers the chance for voters to renew the Best Starts for Kids levy and maintain and expand effective programs that put our children and youth on a path toward lifelong success.

    First approved by voters in 2015 and passed unanimously by the King County Council, the “Regular Property Tax Levy for Children, Youth, Families and Communities” will maintain critical funding for homelessness prevention, prenatal resources, social and emotional youth development programs, and more. Research has shown that the kind of prevention and early engagement funded by Best Starts is the most effective, and least expensive, way to ensure positive outcomes for our kids and community.

    Proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Best Starts for Kids program generates millions of dollars to provide children and youth in King County the chance to be healthy, happy, and safe. Proposition 1 would renew and expand services by increasing the levy from 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to 19 cents. This increase will allow the county to build upon the program's proven successes including Prenatal-5 family support, youth and family homelessness services, and community-driven partnerships through Communities of Opportunity that address emotional growth. It will also help families access affordable child care and begin to ensure child care workers earn a living wage. 

    Vote to approve King County Prop. 1 to renew a proven investment in the Best Starts for Kids program’s long-term vision to guarantee that all kids and families living in King County can not only meet their basic needs but thrive.

    King County, Proposition 1 Best Starts

    King County Proposition 1 offers the chance for voters to renew the Best Starts for Kids levy and maintain and expand effective programs that put our children and youth on a path toward lifelong success.

King County

King County Executive

  • Non-Partisan
  • Evergreen Future
  • King County Executive Dow Constantine has been a strong and effective leader for economic justice, workers, and climate action throughout his career. As a state legislator, on the King County Council, and as King County Executive, Constantine has fought for and delivered transportation and transit solutions, action on climate, improvements in public health, and an efficiently run government.

    Under his leadership, King County has expanded Metro transit service, improved oil safety rules, and created one of the best urban forestry programs in the nation. Constantine also led efforts to pass Best Starts for Kids, a model initiative that increases access to healthy food, affordable housing, and public health services for many of King County's most vulnerable children.

    Constantine is now running for a fourth term as King County Executive to build on a pandemic recovery that puts people first and creates inclusive communities. If he is re-elected, one of Constantine's priorities will be to reform the King County Sheriff's Office. During our interview, he expressed his frustration at the challenges of getting answers or reforms out of the current independent sheriff's office. As the county shifts to an executive-appointed sheriff, which voters approved last fall, Constantine said he will push for more transparency and demand that officers wear body cameras.

    In addition, Constantine is hoping to continue and expand his efforts to open more hotels to house homeless residents of King County. He expressed pride in a new zero-emissions, low-income housing development in Renton and hopes to expand that model across the county.

    Constantine has faced some criticism during his tenure around the building of the $242 million King County Youth Detention Center, which voters approved in 2012 and opened in 2018. During the protests for racial justice last summer, Constantine announced his support for transitioning the jail away from holding youth by 2025.

    Constantine has earned overwhelming support from our Progressive Voters Guide partner organizations as well as elected and community leaders. He is the best choice in this race.

    Dow Constantine

    King County Executive Dow Constantine has been a strong and effective leader for economic justice, workers, and climate action throughout his career.

  • Non-Partisan
  • Evergreen Future
  • Sen. Joe Nguyen was elected to the Washington state Senate in 2018 and has worked as a senior program manager at Microsoft since 2013. His parents were refugees from Vietnam who came to White Center, where Nguyen was born and raised.

    During Nguyen's time in the Legislature, he has been an advocate for Washington's families and equality, including playing a leadership role in fully funding the Working Families Tax Credit. In addition, he co-sponsored legislation to require anti-racism and equity training in public schools.

    Nguyen is running for county executive to implement sweeping actions on the affordable housing crisis, to reform the criminal justice system with deep changes and accountability, and to make the state's economy work for everyone, not just the wealthiest people. In particular, Nguyen has proposed to make all transit services free to improve access and increase ridership. He also wants to leverage the new Regional Homelessness Authority to significantly scale up the building of affordable housing.

    Nguyen has the support of elected leaders including state Reps. Kirsten Harris-Talley and David Hackney as well as state Sen. Bob Hasegawa and Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti. Nguyen is a progressive choice if you're looking for new leadership in the executive's office who will prioritize racial justice and systemic change.

    Joe Nguyen

    Sen. Joe Nguyen was elected to the Washington state Senate in 2018 and has worked as a senior program manager at Microsoft since 2013. His parents were refugees from Vietnam who came to White Center, where Nguyen was born and raised.

Other Candidates

There are three other candidates in this race: Johnathon Crines, Bill Hirt, and Goodspace Guy. Crines talked about an equitable economic recovery from the pandemic and other progressive priorities in his voters' pamphlet statement but does not appear to have a website or any other campaign information available. Hirt is a perennial candidate with a single-issue platform of opposing light rail. Goodspace Guy, another perennial candidate, supports capitalism and colonizing orbital space. 

King County Council

King County Council, District #7

  • Federal Way Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson is running for King County Council in District 7. Assefa-Dawson is a family self sufficiency coordinator at King County Housing Authority and a financial educator at the YMCA for survivors of domestic violence. She was the first person of African descent to serve on the Federal Way City Council and is a strong community leader in roles such as the co-chair of the Regional Law, Safety and Justice Committee and the vice president of the Ethiopian Community Center.

    Assefa-Dawson brings a strong record of progressive advocacy to this campaign. Her priorities include affordable housing, a living wage, criminal justice reform, and social equity and inclusivity work. Assefa-Dawson’s policy priorities are in the effort to bring economic stability and reliable government services to King County residents.

    Also in this race is incumbent Republican Pete Von Reichbauer, who has held the District 7 seat on the council for 28 years. Reichbauer has remained a conservative voice on the council and mostly focuses on issues of public spaces such as the construction of the Federal Way Transit Center and the recent Hylebos Wetlands protection project.

    There are two other candidates in this race. Dominique Torgerson is a brewery owner with a limited campaign platform. She is primarily criticizing business and zoning regulations and doesn't address most of the important issues faced by the communities in King County. Saudia Abdullah is the Community Corrections Division director for King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. Her campaign priorities include economic recovery, education, and community safety, which for Abdullah, unfortunately, does not involve meaningful police reform.

    Lydia Assefa-Dawson is the most progressive candidate in this race and is a good fit to represent District 7 on the King County Council.

    Lydia Assefa-Dawson

    Federal Way Councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson is running for King County Council in District 7. Assefa-Dawson is a family self sufficiency coordinator at King County Housing Authority and a financial educator at the YMCA for survivors of domestic violence.

King County Council, District #9

  • Non-Partisan
  • Evergreen Future
  • Kim-Khanh Van is a current Renton City Council member who is running for King County Council in District 9 to bring her diverse experience to the county. After her family escaped Vietnam as refugees and settled in King County, she went on to earn her doctorate and become an attorney. Van credits the community for her successes and wants to provide families and residents with healthy, livable communities that include child care access and infrastructure maintenance.

    Van has demonstrated that she is willing to take tough public votes on behalf of the most vulnerable in the community. She was one of only two members of the Renton City Council who voted to maintain the Red Lion Hotel as a source of housing for residents experiencing homelessness. In our interview, we were impressed with her in-depth knowledge about the issue and her desire to lead as a consensus and coalition builder at the county level. She wants to do more to educate voters on the economic and social benefits of providing supportive, stable housing early, rather than jailing people experiencing homelessness.

    Van has done much advocacy work for marginalized communities. She understands the struggles that the Black, Latino, and Asian-Pacific Islander communities have faced historically and in the present, and vows to continue to stand with residents to make the county a place of opportunity for all.

    Van's personal and professional experience make her a great choice for King County Council in District 9.

    Kim-Khanh Van

    Kim-Khanh Van is a current Renton City Council member who is running for King County Council in District 9 to bring her diverse experience to the county. After her family escaped Vietnam as refugees and settled in King County, she went on to earn her doctorate and become an attorney.

  • Non-Partisan
  • Evergreen Future
  • Chris Franco is an Army veteran who serves on the leadership team in the Office of Equity and Social Justice of the King County Executive. He also serves as co-chair of the county's Latinx Affinity Group and on the county's anti-racism Core Team, which develops policy and budget priorities based on feedback from organizations and communities of color.

    In our interview with Franco, he emphasized his readiness to jump into the county's biggest issues as a public servant focused on equity. He wants to address the history of redlining by changing building laws to make it easier to build affordable housing. He noted that the region's growth is outpacing infrastructure and he would prioritize planning housing around clean energy and transportation needs if elected.

    Franco stated that some funding from the law enforcement system could be better used to provide mental health and child care services. Drawing on his Army experience, he believes that police should not be armed like soldiers and that demilitarization of the police should be a priority.

    Chris Franco

    Chris Franco is an Army veteran who serves on the leadership team in the Office of Equity and Social Justice of the King County Executive.

  • Non-Partisan
  • Ubax Gardheere came to King County as a refugee 25 years ago and has since spent her time organizing for better housing, health, and sustainability outcomes for all. She currently works as the director of Seattle's Equitable Development Initiative (EDI). The project was established in 2016 as a community-led way to support and fund equitable work in Black and brown neighborhoods facing displacement. Some of their funded projects include transitional and affordable housing, programming for youth, seniors, and refugees, local gardens, and the redevelopment of cultural centers. She was also previously a program director at Puget Sound Sage, where she focused her efforts on community-based planning and bringing racial justice to policymaking.

    In our interview, Gardheere stated that she wants to increase community land trusts, which would create more permanently affordable housing and protect property from speculation and bidding wars on the open market. Hand-in-hand with these policies, she would advocate for more parks and open space development, as well as green infrastructure, to help neighborhoods mitigate the effects of climate change. Finally, she believes that a criminal justice system focusing on putting people in jail has damaged our communities, and would increase investments to address issues like food scarcity and community-based alternatives to policing.

    Gardheere has the experience of managing a team that has moved over $50 million into marginalized communities, empowering them to make decisions that are right for their unique needs. Her demonstrated experience organizing inside communities and in government, along with the collaborative model that she has fostered, speaks well of her potential as a King County Council member.

    Ubax Gardheere

    Ubax Gardheere came to King County as a refugee 25 years ago and has since spent her time organizing for better housing, health, and sustainability outcomes for all. She currently works as the director of Seattle's Equitable Development Initiative (EDI).

Other Candidates

Republican incumbent Reagan Dunn is running to retain his seat representing District 9 on the King County Council. Dunn has served on the council since he was appointed and later elected to the position in 2005. Before that, he worked as a federal prosecutor appointed by President George W. Bush and was the national coordinator of a Department of Justice program that increases policing in neighborhoods. Dunn challenged Bob Ferguson in the 2012 race for attorney general and lost.

On the council, Dunn has been a consistent voice opposing the progressive reforms proposed by the rest of the council. In March, Dunn was the lone vote against giving grocery store workers $4 per hour hazard pay for their work on the front lines of the pandemic. In addition, Dunn was a vocal opponent of streamlining homelessness services between Seattle and King County. However, he did propose spending $1 million of taxpayer money on bus tickets to send people experiencing homelessness to other states, another shortsighted proposal that fails to address the real issues. In this campaign, he has emphasized his prosecutorial background and longstanding support of law enforcement without talking about how to reform law enforcement or reinvest in community services.

Kent City Council

Kent City Council, Position #6

  • Incumbent Brenda Fincher is running for re-election to Kent City Council, Position 6 to continue her work on economic recovery and affordable housing. Fincher has served on the council since 2014, and in that time has voted to approve funds for youth mental health and supported community discussion on providing a mental health co-response model to law enforcement. She states that if re-elected, she will build on current renter protections, advocate for businesses owned by people of color, and work to ensure that housing stays affordable for working families.

    She is running against Larry Hussey and Bradley Cairnes. Hussey does not have a campaign website available as of mid-July, but his candidate announcement states that the city needs more motels and less 5G, and that he is anti-marijuana. Similarly, Cairnes is running a conspiracy-filled campaign and does not have a policy agenda.

    Fincher is the best choice in this race.

    Brenda Fincher

    Incumbent Brenda Fincher is running for re-election to Kent City Council, Position 6 to continue her work on economic recovery and affordable housing.