Local business operators and civic leaders gathered in Tukwila for a roundtable discussion with King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, hosted by the Seattle Metro Chamber in partnership with the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Recology. Councilmember Upthegrove represents District 5 of King County, which includes Burien, Kent, Des Moines, SeaTac, Tukwila, and Renton.
The roundtable included several representatives from small and medium size businesses, local government, and service providers. The group discussed a range of issues from King County’s political climate, to housing affordability and homelessness, and the education achievement gap.
Ensuring South King County grows in a way that keeps everyone together as a community
Councilmember Upthegrove, who was recently reelected for a second term on King County Council, outlined his vision for South King County in the coming years and stressed the need to work together as a region to address pressing issues. He talked about the importance of the involvement of the business community in these discussions.
Following this election cycle, Councilmember Upthegrove said he’d like to see a change in the growing polarization happening not just nationally, but right here in King County. He said we can let these issues divide us, or they can unite us—and urged the group to see the challenges around growth as opportunities to come together. He sees his role on King County Council as a way to bring cities together and work toward shared goals, and to ensure South King County is growing in a way that keeps everyone together as a community.
Transportation, traffic, and housing
Several members expressed concerns at the roundtable on issues surrounding transportation throughout King County. As traffic congestion continues to worsen, business representatives talked about the importance of connecting employees to their jobs in efficient and cost-effective ways. Councilmember Upthegrove also stressed the importance of centering new housing and increased parking capacity around transit centers to help ease congestion.
Closing the achievement gap
Members also expressed concern over the local education system, specifically the gaps in achievement students experience based on race and income level. Councilmember Upthegrove said that every child in King County deserves a world-class education, and that he believes closing the achievement gap is “one of the most important civil rights issues of our day.” He believes County government will have a role to play in that, whether through programs funded for maternity and early childhood support, or continued support for the Best Starts for Kids Levy, and stressed the importance of driving County dollars out in smart ways to community partners using competitive grants.
This was the first in a series of King County Council roundtables that the Seattle Metro Chamber will be hosting in coming months. To learn more, please contact Connie Au-Yeung, the Chamber’s policy and outreach coordinator.