On Dec. 3 the King County Council was discussing its 2015 legislative agenda when District 1 representative Rod Dembowski brought up a harrowing prospect (a scrollable video is here) . Citing the “historic and continuing lack of representation on the Sound Transit Board of Directors” for the North King cities he represents, Mr. Dembowski stated “I know that there will be probably action with respect to Governance Reform in the legislature ties to proposals for Sound Transit 3.” He wanted to know the County’s official position on this issue.
County Director of Govt. Relations Rachel Smith, speaking on behalf of the Executive, answered that “The Executive supports the current construct of the Sound Transit Board and would not be in favor of any governance changes.”
Mr. Dembowski didn’t take that as an answer, continuing to implore the Council to consider its response.
In a later email to me, Dembowski clarified he “did not ‘support governance reform’ at Sound Transit,” saying he was merely “aimed at being ready to respond when those issues arise in Olympia,” and ” that elected leaders in the north will look at ‘governance reform’ if they continue to be left out.” He declined an opportunity to name specific city officials or legislators.
Rail advocates have usually looked at governance reform, rightly, as a way to fundamentally redirect a Sound Transit Board that most advocates believe is doing basically the right thing. The precise proposals vary — from incorporating roads into the mission, to a directly elected board — but at STB we’ve argued against it here, here, here, here, here, and perhaps most notably here. If finding a spot for the Mayor of Shoreline, for example, heads this off, that would be worthwhile.
As PubliCola points out, with four of Dembowski’s Council colleagues on the board, and Dow Constantine controlling 10 of the 18 appointments to the board, this idea will not find fertile ground at the County.