King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn displayed harmful mediocrity during a meeting among the cities of Black Diamond, Covington, and Maple Valley last week. He had the full, undivided attention of mayors, council members, and the greater public, yet he did not answer any questions and did little more than rattle off statistics on crime that were not disaggregated for his district, and based on his biased survey mailers. Indeed, his presentations have been mere dog whistles against greater equity policies and police accountability measures. Dunn has done little more than fearmonger; if we were to listen solely to Dunn for the past several months, we would be under the impression that every street in King County is the scene of violent murder, with the only solution being to throw more money at the old way of doing things without any regard to aspiring for more creative solutions.
It is tragic that he has yet to sign on to addressing the rise of hate crimes and discrimination beyond using this crisis as a means to petition for more funding for the King County Sheriff’s Office. The rest of King County leadership signed on to opportunities to create holistic, community-based partnerships when they declared that racism and other forms of bias is a public health crisis. Dunn was the sole “no” vote. If we are to truly make King County a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable place for all, we must promote approaches that prevent and address systemic and overt hate and bias, with more people at the table. By repeatedly downvoting these measures, he blows off the diversity and complexity of the needs of our region for a political stunt. After all, Dunn proudly announced in this Tri City session that this was why he also voted down a large COVID relief budget (and unspecified concerns with “pork”). In only a few minutes, Dunn reminded the public that the needs of the many were outweighed by the goals of a few.
Dunn’s brief speech said little to nothing about the crisis of homelessness in our region beyond his utter disregard for the issue. Before signing off, he spoke at length about a new home he purchased. The public learned more about his home renovations than about his proposals for housing affordability. It is beyond shameful that we have a King County council member who has more to say about his acquisition of property than our county’s desperate need. “Let them eat cake” should at least come with support for small businesses like local bakeries.
Councilmember Dunn only remembers his job when it’s his election year. Even after years in public office, including coming from an office-holding family, Dunn has done little to build relationships that don’t fit into the scope of his agenda, or to make big changes beyond photo ops with oversized checks for one-time contributions. Thankfully, we have wonderful candidates, including Army veteran and public servant Chris Franco, who will lead on empathy, consensus-building, inclusion, and outreach. Let’s do better.
Kristiana de Leon