Ron Sims: County Executive, King County
"Ron Sims is a true green visionary," said Scott Otterson, Chapter Political Committee co-chair. "He doesn’t try to tell you what you want to hear by echoing your old environmental positions back at you. Instead, he’ll tell you about a new idea of his own, and you realize that – even though you didn't think of it – this is what you wanted to hear."
King County faces a number of issues over the next several years with huge financial and environmental implications, including the roll-out of Sound Transit light rail, the decaying Highway 99 viaduct, and planned ballot initiatives promoting the selfish destruction of our public air and water.
"From taking on the reclamation of Puget Sound to continuing to hold the line against California-style sprawl, we must retain our commitment to balancing present-day desires against the needs of posterity," said Sims. "That will require bold thinking and, at times, the political will to make difficult and perhaps unpopular choices on tough issues."
Following are some highlights of Sims’ environmental record.
SALMON When the federal government listed Chinook salmon as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, Sims called together political, community, environmental, labor, business, and tribal leaders to promote what became the Tri-County ESA Response Group. He pushed for adoption of Best Management Practices in evaluating proposals that impact salmon, helped leverage more than $125 million in local, state and federal dollars for salmon protection and recovery, and set a goal of dedicating 1% of the capital budget for habitat restoration and protection.
TRANSPORTATION Under the Sims administration, Metro Transit has switched to hybrid buses, low-sulfur fuel and the use of bio-diesel. Sims has been a long-time advocate for light rail. As chair of the Sound Transit board, he led the successful resubmission of the light rail project for federal review. Central Link was "highly recommended" by the Federal Transit Administration. As a result, the federal government has pumped $500 million into the project, which broke ground in 2003. He also pushed for the inauguration of a third Sounder commuter train to Tacoma and led negotiations with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to extend Sounder service north to Everett and south to Lakewood.
SMART GROWTH "Sims really stood up for the environment when he fought for the Critical Areas Ordinance," said Otterson. "The kind of personal attacks that he's taken from developers and short-sighted special interests -- that just isn't the kind of behavior you endure unless you really believe in something."
Sims is a staunch supporter of Washington’s Growth Management Act. He oversaw the development of King County’s Urban Growth Boundary to improve vital economic centers and reduce sprawl and has held the line on King County’s Urban Growth Boundary, cutting the rate of rural land development to less than 5% annually. Other accomplishments include implementing aggressive environmental regulations to protect wetlands and floodplains; enacting strong policies to disallow sewers and enforce other disincentives beyond the Urban Growth Line; and re-focusing county dollars for housing, transportation and infrastructure to support increased densities within the growth boundary.