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ROD Dembowski and Reagan Dunn are the best candidates in their respective races for Metropolitan King County Council.

In his eight years on the council, Dunn, 42, has been a vote for caution on taxes without being anti-tax as such. He has voted no on property taxes for the passenger ferry and a sales-tax increase for drug treatment, but yes on property taxes for flood control. He has supported the levies for Emergency Medical Services and juvenile justice. But he voted against putting the parks levy on the Aug. 6 ballot, not because it was a tax.

“I would easily have supported a 10 to 15 percent increase for parks,” he said. “It was 41 percent.”

Dunn is a member of the council’s Regional Transit Committee. Faced with demands for a tax increase for bus service, he says he is amenable, but that “I need to see some money for roads.”

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Dunn’s opponent, Realtor Shari Song, 49, complains of Dunn, “He votes against new revenue.” She also dings him for missing council meetings when he ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general. But on a council often split 5-4, Dunn’s caution on taxes is a plus. His missed meetings during a campaign are not as big an issue as Song’s lack of any experience in elective office.

Dembowski, 41, was appointed to the council after Councilmember Bob Ferguson was elected state attorney general. He was an equity partner with the Foster Pepper law firm in Seattle and has a two-decade record of civic engagement that dates back to his time as a policy adviser to King County Executive Gary Locke. Dembowski brings a moderate, effective voice to the table.

In his four months on the job, Dembowski has been chairman of the Regional Transit Committee and has taken active roles on panels addressing law, health and human services, government accountability and mental-health issues.

Though conservative on fiscal matters, he is open to finding funds for human services. He has also demonstrated leadership in the ongoing efforts to reform the public-defender system.

Strong leadership will be essential as King County grapples with a shortage of funds for public transit and road maintenance.

Dembowski doesn’t speak in broad terms; he is specific and direct — right down to a chilling moment during an interview when he turned surprisingly negative on opponent Naomi Wilson for not voting in several elections between 2008 and 2012.

Dunn and Dembowski are the strongest candidates for the job.

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