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Originally published May 18, 2009 at 4:09 PM | Page modified May 18, 2009 at 10:18 PM

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Triplett to continue as King County executive

The Metropolitan King County Council, opting for continuity and familiarity with county issues, voted Monday to keep Interim King County Executive Kurt Triplett on the job for another six months.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Metropolitan King County Council, opting for continuity and familiarity with county issues, voted Monday to keep Interim King County Executive Kurt Triplett on the job for another six months.

Triplett, who was chief of staff to former County Executive Ron Sims for five years, was chosen over former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer and two other candidates.

He will be sworn in Tuesday to serve until after voters choose the next executive in the November election.

"What we need now is stability," Councilmember Julia Patterson said after the council voted 6-3 in favor of Triplett over Royer. "... Kurt can maintain a steady and experienced hand on the helm of this budget process."

The county is facing a combined shortfall of more than $140 million in the general fund and the Metro Transit budget in 2010.

During an interview with the council Monday, Royer and his supporters said he would bring high-octane regional leadership to the job and help rebuild trust in county government.

"This decision is not about hiring a manager, it's about hiring an experienced and effective political leader," Royer said.

Royer said if he were chosen as county executive he would ask Triplett to stay on as chief of staff.

The County Council opened a candidate-evaluation process after Sims resigned May 8, the day he was sworn in as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Triplett automatically assumed his boss' duties when Sims left office.

Now, Triplett will remain in the executive's post until after the November election.

Councilmembers Bob Ferguson, Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert were the only members who voted against an amendment naming Triplett the executive. Royer, who served as mayor from 1978 to 1990, was the top choice of 10 of 16 members of a blue-ribbon advisory committee the council appointed to evaluate candidates; Triplett received five votes.

When candidate Louise Miller, a former member of the council, was asked how she would choose an executive, she said she would appoint Royer because he received a "supermajority" of advisory-committee votes.

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The fourth candidate was former Councilmember Steve Hammond.

When he was questioned by council members, Triplett displayed an intimate knowledge of county issues and said he would keep Sims' "key decision-makers" in place. "I won't just hit the ground running, I'm already running the government," said Triplett, who was an aide to several county officials and was deputy director of natural resources and parks before he became Sims' top aide.

After the initial 6-3 vote, the council appointed Triplett by acclamation.

Six candidates are running in the Aug. 18 primary for county executive: Councilmembers Dow Constantine and Larry Phillips, former KIRO-TV news anchor Susan Hutchison, state Rep. Ross Hunter, state Sen. Fred Jarrett and former consultant and project manager Alan Lobdell.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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