For the past 20 years, Jane Hague has represented Bellevue and other Eastside cities in the King County Council's District 6. This year she's facing a challenger: Bellevue mayor and former head of King County jails, Claudia Balducci.
Balducci said one of her proudest achievements was teaming up with Kevin Wallace on the Bellevue City Council to bring together the council's “warring factions” when the future of light rail was in doubt.
“We intentionally really worked hard together and joined together to negotiate the final deal with Sound Transit that would enable light rail to come through Bellevue,” Balducci said.
Ultimately the deal was approved unanimously by the council.
She’s also proud of her work as jail director to move mentally ill people out of isolation and into group housing, which she said was healthier for them and saved the county money.
Balducci has accused Councilmember Hague of missing too many council meetings and sponsoring too few pieces of legislation.
“When it comes to just doing the job of ‘something comes before me and I take a yes or no vote,’ she’s failing to do even that basic work much of the time,” Balducci said.
Hague responded that Balducci is distorting her record, and that if she’s missed meetings, it’s been to advocate on issues nationally and to help constituents solve their problems.
“If it means missing a meeting, if it means taking time off to meet with somebody who has a specific need, that builds the trust that means a lot to me, and means a lot to the electorate,” Hague said.
Hague in turn accused Balducci of attending Sound Transit board meetings on work time when she was head of the King County jail system.
Balducci said she was salaried and made up that time on evenings and weekends.
In her 20 years on the council, Hague said she’s been fiscally conservative, but worked with her more liberal colleagues, who have endorsed her.
Hague supports the county’s “Best Starts for Kids” property tax levy, but added amendments to increase council oversight of the funding and outcomes.
“We put it on the ballot and I did add three amendments which I thought the voters would appreciate,” Hague said.
Hague also supported last April’s unsuccessful tax measure to pay for more Metro bus service. When it failed, Hague said she was one of the council members who pushed back on the need for service cuts.
“There were five of us on the council who said we’re not going to cut these hours, even though the county executive said we’re going to have to cut,” Hague said. “We said no, let’s push the pause button here and see what we can do with a growing economy that’s generating more sales tax."
Their effort avoided most of the proposed cuts, but Hague’s district suffered. Balducci said, and Metro confirmed, that the Eastside absorbed 48 percent of the cuts that were ultimately imposed. Metro staff said they originally planned to cut service equally across the county in four phases, but because of the council’s efforts, only the first phase of cuts took place.
Balducci said Hague should have advocated more strongly for her own district during the debate.