Sims, likely rival Phillips start verbal assaults
As Ron Sims gears up to run for an unprecedented fourth term as King County executive, he faces a likely challenge from fellow Democrat...
Seattle Times staff reporter
As Ron Sims gears up to run for an unprecedented fourth term as King County executive, he faces a likely challenge from fellow Democrat Larry Phillips.
The pair already are exchanging bitter words, though the election is more than a year away. Phillips, a Metropolitan King County Council member from Seattle's Magnolia district, said Sims has overstayed his effectiveness. Sims called Phillips "a naysayer and a complainer."
If Phillips decides to run, it will be the first time such a prominent politician has taken on an incumbent county executive from his own party. He said Monday he is setting up a committee to help him decide whether to take on the man who has been the public face of the Democratic Party in King County since 1997.
This morning, Sims holds a $75-a-plate breakfast at the Seattle Westin Hotel that is expected to draw a crowd of more than 1,400. Attendance at the breakfast was promoted largely by "table captains" who included environmentalists, labor organizers, current and former public officials, and the largest single group — county employees including Sims' personal staff and agency administrators.
Sims said those employees volunteered to be captains and weren't pressured in any way. He defended his record and his decision to seek another term. "He may be tired of being a council member," Sims said of Phillips, "but I'm not tired of being executive. I'm excited about it. We have the opportunity to become the unchallenged best place in the world to live."
Phillips said it "just seems like Ron has moved on but isn't willing to move out of the position he's in. The breadth of frustration is really astonishing. There's a lot of people across King County who are asking what in the world is wrong with Ron Sims?"
Phillips, who has previously criticized Sims on such issues as a looming $68 million budget shortfall, animal control and $190 million of investments gone bad, said Sims' last-minute opposition to the Proposition 1 roads-and-transit ballot issue left "a very strong sense among a lot of leaders last year of betrayal."
Relations between the two men, who were County Council colleagues for several years, have been souring for some time. Phillips widened the rift earlier this month when he said Sims had whitewashed a long-term funding problem and jeopardized public safety by declaring in a budget address just before the 2005 election that "the era of deficits is over."
Sims responded in an angry letter to the entire council last week that Phillips had taken his deficit comment out of context and failed to recall that Sims warned later in the same 2005 speech that the county's long-term budget problem remained unresolved.
"It is unfortunate that Mr. Phillips has chosen to make the 2009 budget challenge a political issue as the problem was created by reality, not rhetoric," Sims wrote to the council.
Sims' breakfast event will give a financial shot in the arm to his campaign, which reported an unimpressive bank balance of $30,727 in its latest report to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Phillips, by contrast, reported $149,067 in his 2011 County Council re-election account and a surplus account from his 2007 election.
Running for executive has become a pricey affair. In 2005, Sims spent $764,341 to defeat Republican challenger David Irons, who ran a $552,560 campaign.
Sims said he didn't raise more money for his re-election sooner because he chose instead to ask prospective donors to give to the campaigns for the 2006 Transit Now sales-tax measure and the past year's parks and Medic One levy renewals.
Captains at today's Sims fundraiser include Chief of Staff Kurt Triplett, Development and Environmental Services Director Stephanie Warden, Wastewater Director Christie True, Acting Animal Control Manager Al Dams and more than 40 other county staffers.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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