The primary election in Metropolitan King County Council District 8 is a rematch of last year's November election pitting former state legislator Joe McDermott against former King County employee Diana Toledo. Except this time there's another name on the ballot: Goodspaceguy.

Share story

Candidates in the Metropolitan King County Council District 8 primary election sure look familiar.

They should. It’s a rematch of last year’s November election pitting former state legislator Joe McDermott against former King County employee Diana Toledo. Except this time there’s another name on the ballot: Goodspaceguy, a perennial candidate also known as Michael George Goodspaceguy Nelson.

And this time, McDermott is an incumbent, having won last year with 68 percent of the vote.

We’re doing this again because last year’s contest was to complete the council term of Dow Constantine who moved up and out when he was elected county executive in 2009. This year’s election is for a full four-year term.

Most Read Local Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

District 8 includes West Seattle, Burien, Vashon and Maury islands, and parts of south and downtown Seattle such as Pioneer Square.

Salaries for council members are $131,578 this year. They are scheduled to receive a 3 percent cost-of-living increase next year.

McDermott has raised $54,419 in campaign contributions, with the biggest donations coming from environmentalists, unions and real-estate interests. Toledo has collected just $1,578. Goodspaceguy has reported no contributions.

In its annual candidate evaluations the Municipal League of King County rated McDermott “very good,” Toledo “good” and Goodspaceguy “not qualified.”

Ballots in the vote-by-mail primary must be postmarked by Aug. 16.

Not that McDermott

Let’s clear up one thing: James Joseph “Joe” McDermott is not related to 12-term Congressman Jim McDermott, D-Seattle.

Joe McDermott is a veteran lawmaker, though, having spent 10 years as a state representative and senator. (He worked part-time between legislative sessions in Seattle as a wisecracking guide for Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour.)

After just seven months in office, he can’t point to a long list of accomplishments, particularly with county government focused on budget-cutting.

But several, he said, are worth noting. He supported the county’s $36 million purchase of a controversial gravel mine on Maury Island so it could become a shoreline park. He sponsored legislation, proposed by Constantine, that created a new structure for communicating with groups representing the 285,000 residents in the county’s unincorporated areas.

As chairman of the King County Board of Health, he said he plans to convene a panel that would propose a stable funding source for the county’s public-health agency, whose work ranges from restaurant inspections to maternity services for low-income mothers.

As the first openly gay member of the council, McDermott says he brings a valuable perspective to the group. He pushed the council to proclaim June “Gay Pride Month,” the first time the county has done so. During a recent briefing on the county’s plan to end homelessness, McDermott stressed that a disproportionate percentage of gay teens are homeless and the plan should specifically address that need.

He’s been endorsed by Constantine, Washington Conservation Voters, King County Labor Council and King County Democrats.

That’s not to say he’s always in lock-step with council Democrats.

McDermott didn’t support a proposal by Democrat Bob Ferguson, who is running for state attorney general, to prohibit some pretrial defendants from being released into alternative-to-jail programs.

McDermott sponsored a compromise that won majority support to keep defendants with violent records out of some community programs but allow them in more structured ones.

One issue that differentiates McDermott from his opponents is a proposed $20 increase in car-tab fees that Constantine says is needed to forestall cuts in bus service. McDermott supports the fees; Toledo and Goodspaceguy don’t, contending that Metro is poorly managed.

Layoff leads to campaign

McDermott may have high-level connections as a longtime politician, Toledo said, but she’s connected to people doing the work at King County.

That’s her campaign in a nutshell: A 15-year county employee, most recently as a supervisor of animal-cruelty investigations, she believes she can find waste and inefficiencies.

Voters should elect her, she said, as someone willing to speak out and hold Constantine accountable instead of “nice guy” McDermott.

Toledo was laid off by the county early last year. She filed a complaint with the county Ombudsman’s Office, alleging she was a victim of whistle-blower retaliation.

The 29-page investigation report did not find sufficient evidence of retaliation. It concluded that Toledo likely was laid off for budgetary reasons — even though she had received a satisfactory performance evaluation (she contends her grades were unfairly low).

Toledo has appealed the ombudsman’s findings and says she still wants to work for the county.

When it comes to cutting spending, Toledo is quick to point to the Ombudsman’s Office as a target, as well as county communications personnel, who “spin” and “sterilize” information and make the county less efficient.

She also said the county should stop funding “elite” artists through 4Culture, the county’s arts and heritage agency. She, instead, would give money to public schools for arts programs.

Like last year, Toledo is raising little money to spread her message. She acknowledged she should make fundraising a higher priority but dreads asking people for money during an economic downturn. She has been endorsed by animal-welfare advocate Kim Koon, White Center community activist Dick Thurnau, and the 11th District Democrats, who also endorsed McDermott.

Colonizing space

Goodspaceguy’s platform is that public-sector frugality will create prosperity, similar to what he campaigned on last year for U.S. Senate, and the year before when he ran for county executive.

But he didn’t add Goodspaceguy to his legal name for nothing.

His second priority is colonizing space, which begs the question: Why run for County Council?

To spread his message, replies Goodspaceguy, who has run for office 12 times.

That’s not to say he’s without terrestrial ideas. He wants a head tax on all people in King County to stall population growth; he wants to dump the minimum wage because he says it kills jobs; he would abolish building-height limits to create more density to protect “spaceship earth.”

Goodspaceguy said he is not seeking endorsements and is not raising any campaign funds because he doesn’t like asking people for money.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174