Sims plugs transportation, and 'it's not going to be free'


The Mirror

King County Executive Ron Sims offered the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce a brief update on the state of the county last week, highlighting his vision for the future and answering lingering questions about the Nov. 2004 election.

At the chamber's monthly membership luncheon at the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club Wednesday, Sims, who is running against King County Councilman David Irons for the executive seat this year, lauded the county's fiscal conservatism, which he said carried the county through $135 million in cuts in four years while maintaining a good credit rating and not touching the reserves.

Still, he stressed the importance of improving the regional economy and boosting international trade and biotechnology development — all of which will "fall by the wayside," he said, "unless we have a system of transportation that allows people and goods to move easily.

"We have to have a robust transportation system. It's not going to be free," he said. "We can't believe we're going to create a transportation system by osmosis, or good luck."

King County's Metro transit service is a "big deal" for Federal Way, city manager David Moseley said, adding the city is always interested in increased service, especially from the 21st Avenue Southwest park-and-ride station and the new park-and-ride station at South 272nd Street.

Besides transportation, Sims touched on several other items of interest in King County, including:

• An agreement between King and Snohomish counties for a wastewater treatment facility should be finalized by the end of this month.

• A strategy for restoring Puget Sound's threatened salmon species is before the National Marine Fisheries Service. Sims said its approval would be a positive sign for the natural and business environment.

"We have to recover and we must recover Puget Sound. No economy grows next to a dead water body," he said. "Nobody wants to locate next to a place of contamination out of fear they'll be the source of revenue for recovery."

• The county will continue moving forward with a housing initiative to put King County residents in their own homes.

"In this county, it's getting really difficult to get a house anywhere," he said. "Fifty percent of growth is people's children. If we want our children to live here, we're going to have to create more housing."

He added housing helps local economies grow, particularly when the local business community is strong. "People shop in the area where they live," he said. "Proximity is very important. It's not fun driving anymore."

• County officials are still waiting to receive recommendations from several groups hired to audit and review the county's elections division.

At the chamber lunch, Sims excoriated those in the division who shirked their duties, and said he wants any changes in the division to lead to a culture of excellence. "I may be a dinosaur, but I'm going to insist people do it the old-fashioned way," he said.

Outside of transit and jail services, much of the county's work doesn't affect the city directly. Still, its operations in public health, transportation planning and transit service does affect Federal Way residents.

Moseley said Federal Way's relationship with the county has improved over the past several years, with the county allocating revenue to the city's Joe's Creek restoration project and the recent Han Woo-Ri Festival. He credited the improvements to the efforts of King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer.

Ultimately, Sims told the chamber last week, the county's actions the are part of a larger vision. "Our goal is to preserve the quality of life," he said. "Government can't create wealth, but it can create the infrastructure to help businesses succeed."

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565,

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