King County Executive candidates Constantine and Hutchison address Asian American concerns

Dow Constantine (left) and Susan Hutchison

Dow Constantine (left) and Susan Hutchison

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Susan Hutchison and Dow Constantine are vying for the position of King County Executive this November.

Hutchison, known by many locals for her time as a KIRO 7 News anchor, currently serves as executive director of the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, a philanthropic foundation based in Seattle that provides grants to art, science, and education programs.

Constantine currently serves on the King County Council. He started his career as an attorney, and then moved on to serve in the Washington state House of Representatives and Senate.

Recently, in a telephone interview, Hutchison and Constantine were asked several questions related to issues pertaining to the Asian American Community.

Northwest Asian Weekly: Many Asian Americans are small business owners. What is your plan for helping small businesses?

Constantine: “Small business is key. We need to build an infrastructure to serve businesses so that goods can move around transit facilities. We need to invest in cleaning up chokepoints so that products can get to where they need to be.

“We need to streamline tax and permitting policies. We have made a lot of progress in creating uniform policies in cities.

“We need to simplify the B&O (Business and Organization) tax rates and the square footage tax (a tax on the amount of square feet used to conduct business activities). King County can provide (small businesses) a regional office.”

Hutchison: “It’s so important to help small businesses succeed because small businesses are engines of our economy.
“The King County Executive must help improve counties’ attitudes to small businesses.

“I believe in a plan focusing on the ability of small businesses to have access to credit and capital, tax and regulatory reform, better transportation, and crime prevention.”

Hutchison will seek to provide small business with access to credit and capital. “[I] will convene the top five lenders to help them reach solutions with us to provide more loans and credit to small businesses.

“I am in favor of a change in the B&O tax. I have been an advocate in Olympia for reform of the B&O tax. We should be fair to small businesses that pay B&O taxes before they make a profit.

“We need to overhaul DDES (Department of Development and Environmental Services.” DDES is the agency that issues business licenses and permits.

“We going to put transportation dollars in congestion relief so that people and freight can move freely throughout the region.

“We need to be very serious about blight and crime.”

How will you address gang activity within King County?

Constantine: “The first priority is to keep police officers on the street.  We need to make sure that basic public safety needs are met. We need to restart the King County Gang Unit.

“I am in favor of programs that wrap around public schools.” As an example, Constantine points to the “New Futures” program, which provides youths with alternatives to gangs.

According to the New Futures website, its mission is to partner with families to create communities where children thrive. This program helps low-income families where poverty and school failure are prevalent.

“[New Futures] helps reengage families and engage parents including households where English is not the original language spoken in the home. The programs help families better understand what associations kids may have at school and what pressures they face.

“The county has a critically important role to play in driving down jail space.”

Constantine has supported mental health and drug courts as alternatives to incarceration. “Special courts are clearly a high priority. These alternatives get to the root of the problem. I have supported county funding although they [the mental health and drug courts] have faced budget cuts.”

Hutchison: “[I] believe in a comprehensive youth violence plan based upon prevention and intervention. Funds spent on this would be money well spent in the long run.

“We must reinforce efforts to stop gang violence at its root. I have met with the King County Sheriff several times to discuss issues of gang activity. I will work with Asian communities to address areas most concerned with gang activity.”

Do you believe in county-funded programs that would provide youths an alternative to the lure of drugs and/or criminal activity?

Constantine: Yes. “The New Futures Program is an example of a program that assists at-risk youths.”
Hutchison: Yes. “It is important that we invest now before problems become more serious.”

Would you support outreach programs to immigrants and naturalized citizens?

Constantine: “I have worked to cut county council and administration costs. This has created funding for programs such as the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), Consejo (a Latin/Hispanic behavioral health agency), and Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA).”

These nonprofits are funded in part by the county, through other governmental agencies, and by private donations.

Hutchison: “Yes. I would work with the [Asian] communities to help provide the proper education and human services outreach that the county can provide.”

How has your prior experience prepared you to work with people with different viewpoints and different backgrounds?

Constantine: “[I] will work collaboratively, productively, and respectively with people from different cultures.”

Constantine spoke about his time in the Washington state House of Representatives, the state Senate, and the King County Council as examples of working with people with opposing views and differing backgrounds.

He also refers to the “richness of culture” and the dozens of different languages spoken in homes in the legislative district he represented.

Hutchison: “In my time in television news, I had the opportunity to work on a documentary focusing on the Chinese community (‘Son of Heaven’). This experience gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time in Chinatown.

“I patronized a number of Asian businesses and felt the experience gave me tremendous appreciation for Chinese American citizens.”

Do you believe in the importance of a diverse staff? Will you seek diversity within your staff?

Constantine: “There is a wealth of talent within the Asian American community. I seek rising stars and will hire qualified people from different communities. The doors are open for those wanting to contribute.”

Hutchison: “Absolutely.  I feel strongly about this. There is tremendous intellect, skill, and experience in our Asian community. [I] look forward to hiring and promoting Asian Americans within the administration.” ♦

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

6 Responses to “King County Executive candidates Constantine and Hutchison address Asian American concerns”

  1. niche market says:

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  2. John Wong says:

    According to King County’s website, Dow has a staff of 4, so I’m not going to fault him for not having an Asian on staff. It may have been called Chinatown in the past, but it’s not now, and I like it even though I’m Chinese. I want my vote to go to the person that shares my values, and Hutchison clearly DOES NOT. She’s anti-abortion, homophobic, and believes creationism needs to be taught in schools. She may have whitewashed her image for this election, but even how she answered the questions related to race in this interview clearly demonstrate her ignorance of diversity.

    • Mark says:

      THE ASIAN COMMUNITY NEEDS TO VOTE FOR DOW CONSTANTINE AS A BLOC AND STOP HUTCHISON!!! The use of the term “Chinatown” shows ignorance on Hutchison’s part. She should know better given how long she has lived in this area, and as a former newscaster you would think she would be more informed. “Chinatown” lumps all the Asians together instead of recognizing different groups (such as Vietnamese and Cambodians) who work or live in the International District. Generalizing about Asians is associated with racist attitudes. I strongly suspect that Hutchison has racist attitudes about Asians and other minorities. She complained in a lawsuit about her replacement at KIRO being Asian. She made a comment at a Seattle Center event suggesting that a performer who was of Asian/Native American descent could not be American (see 9/19/09 11:11 am email comment to 9/19/09 Seattle Times article regarding election) How many times have we as Asians been told we can’t be real Americans? This is a racist attitude and someone who thinks like that has no place running for office. She commented on a radio show that voters should write in Bill Cosby’s name for president instead of Barrack Obama (see 6/11/09 Federal Way Indep. Examiner Boye Coker Article). She lumps them together because of race instead of recognizing them as individuals. She did not appear at a minority event citing some unknown “schedule conflict” (Seattle Times September 18). She went to high school in the South (Virginia). No this doesn’t mean all people from the South are racists. But if you look at her other issues it does make you wonder if she picked up some racist attitudes while growing up there. She has some Asian names backing her up. She is just using these people as tokens and she is an expert at covering up who she really is. A poll from September shows that almost 50% of Asians are voting for her. This shows that many Asians do not realize that there is a huge trust and comfort level difference between Hutchison and Constantine when it comes to race issues. As an Asian it makes no sense to vote for someone who could be racist about Asians. Anyone of any race who cares about fairness and equality for all races should not be voting for Hutchison. Dow is behind by about 5 points in the polls. The Asian community can make or break the election.

      • Kenzie says:

        sorry Mark, you still have not convinced me to vote for Dow. The Asian community making or breaking elections is a myth. We are still outnumbered 3-to-1, most asians don’t bother to vote or not registered. there are many asian republicans in king county. Dow never hires affirmatively, he can’t budget either. I love how he spends my property tax dollars to fund his district ferry system. I enjoyed watching Susan on KIRO over the years, if she was ever a racist in my face I would say something.

  3. Kenzie says:

    John Wong — I was born and raised in Seattle, and Chinatown came before International District. The late Ruby Chow and former King County Councilwoman wanted the distinction of Seattle’s Chinatown to remain “Chinatown”. Less than a decade ago, the official name of this neighborhood is International District/Chinatown. Dow’s been on the council for years and there’s no asian-american on his staff, not even an intern. (I hope the International Examiner folks are reading this) He can brag about allocating funding to ACRS, REWA etc. but the truth is, Ron Sims and his staff deserve the credit, they included these programs in the executive’s annual budget for the council to approve year after year, until now, where the money has now dried up and every social service program is in jeopardy.

  4. John Wong says:

    I feel the need to correct Hutchison. As long as I’ve been in Seattle, it’s been called the International District, not Chinatown. And Hutchison’s quotes, “I patronized a number of Asian businesses…” and “…I look forward to hiring and promoting Asian Americans…” are just that, patronizing. She also said at a candidate forum I attended that she would put an “endorse to Approve Referendum 71″ on her website, and there is nothing there.

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