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King County Chooses Interim Executive

Amy Radil

The King County Council is expected to choose Executive Ron Sims' replacement today (Monday). Sims recently left for a job in the Obama administration. The pace will be hectic; whoever's chosen will confront severe budget problems, and a five–way race to take his or her place.


The interim county executive will serve through this November's election. A blue–ribbon panel evaluated four interim candidates at the county council's request. The person chosen by the council will face immediate decisions about budget cuts to county programs, as well as next year's budget deficit of up to $50 million.

The panel gave the most votes to former Seattle mayor, Charlie Royer. Royer says one of his top priorities would be improved ties with county agencies like the sheriff's and prosecutor's offices. Royer says county officials feel embittered about what they call a lack of openness in Sims' budgeting process last year.

Royer: "I think in six months, an interim executive could begin to repair some of those relationships, build a little trust, but most importantly, send a signal to the community that the county is on a track that will mean better, more transparent, more open communication with everybody it does business with."

The panel put Sims' chief of staff Kurt Triplett in second place. Triplett declined to be interviewed, but says he would try to continue with Sims' priorities for the remainder of the term. Two more candidates did not receive panel votes but may still be interviewed by the county council.

None of these potential "caretakers" is running to become the new county executive in November. But after Sims' long tenure, there are several politicians interested in taking his old office. At least five candidates have made their intentions known so far.

Amy Radil, KUOW News.

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