The first forum in a King County network of small discussion groups will tackle the tricky issue of roads and transit. After Proposition 1's failure...

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The first forum in a King County network of small discussion groups will tackle the tricky issue of roads and transit.

After Proposition 1’s failure at the polls in November, elected officials agreed that transportation should be the topic of the inaugural Countywide Community Forum, which may be held as early as March. Proposition 1 would have funded about $18 billion in projects.

Seattle restaurateur Dick Spady, who sponsored a citizens initiative last year to create the county-sponsored forums, announced Friday that he has begun recruiting participants.

Under Initiative 24, adopted by the Metropolitan King County Council in September, the first small-group discussions will be held only after at least 1,000 people have signed up to participate. Organizers are seeking participants and hosts for forums of four to 12 people that could take place in homes, libraries and other venues.

Participants will view a brief video presenting various perspectives, then discuss the subject and fill out a questionnaire. Survey results will be reported to the County Council and the public.

Spady has pledged up to $310,000 to cover the county’s costs for the first two years of the program. He and his sons Jim and John will recruit hosts and participants and produce the video and other study materials. The study materials must be approved by a steering committee of elected officials and by county Auditor Cheryle Broom.

Participants will be asked to commit to attending at least three forums in a year. Each forum will take place in small groups over the course of a month.

A news release from the Spady family said the first forum would be in March, but Broom called that “a very optimistic projection.” Jim Spady said March is “a best-case scenario” and the date will be pushed back if necessary.

The initial topic of regional transportation was recommended to Broom by a forum steering committee that includes the county executive, County Council members, mayors, school superintendents and other representatives.

Dick Spady, co-founder of Dick’s Drive-In restaurants, has promoted the idea of small-group dialogue at the local or state level since 1970. Redmond had a similar process from 1990 to 1998.

“We’re very excited,” Jim Spady said. “Dad’s been working on this for a long time. He loves this as much as he loves burgers, fries and shakes. That’s a lot.”

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