It would take a very strong candidate to persuade voters — and this editorial board — to choose someone other than Claudia Balducci to represent District 6 on the Metropolitan King County Council.
Instead, Balducci is challenged by retired Boeing engineer Bill Hirt, a vociferous Sound Transit critic.
Hirt is not a credible candidate and says so himself in the county voter guide, where his statement reads in part: “As with the previous 8 candidacies I do so with no desire to win but to attract viewers to my blog” opposing Eastside light rail.
Unless they are nihilists, District 6 voters should elect Balducci to a second term.
A former Bellevue mayor and attorney who worked 16 years in the county detention system, Balducci is deeply knowledgeable about regional governance. She is pragmatic, thoughtful and well versed in the biggest challenges confronting the County Council, including housing, homelessness and transportation.
Balducci helped establish a network of Eastside homeless shelters. A signature accomplishment in Bellevue was her leadership resolving disagreements over the East Link rail route, which is scheduled to begin service in 2023.
Recently, she co-chaired a regional task force seeking to increase the supply of affordable housing. Of particular concern is the scant supply of middle-income housing in District 6, which includes Mercer Island, much of Bellevue and parts of Kirkland and Redmond. It extends north to Bothell and Woodinville.
Balducci is undecided on the public-development authority proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to manage homelessness programs. Balducci said there needs to be accountability and the right structure.
Climate change is a priority for Balducci. During her next term, she wants to develop a policy tool kit that local governments can use to assess and reduce emissions.
Balducci was director of adult and youth detention when the county completed jail reforms and settled a federal civil-rights intervention that began in 2007. She pushed to build a more humane and healthy juvenile-detention facility, which is opening this fall. In response to opponents’ criticism, the facility was built to be adaptable to evolving needs, so portions can be opened up and used for other purposes if no longer needed for incarceration, she noted.
Balducci supports further juvenile-justice reforms. She is a valuable member of the council as those discussions proceed.
District 6 voters have little choice but to reelect Balducci, but they’re fortunate that she’s a good choice.