By James Tabafunda
Northwest Asian Weekly
She developed a passion for helping people early in her life. Because her mother, Alice Coker-Toledo, operated a neighborhood food bank in Seattle in the late 70s, she learned how one person can make an impact on the lives of many others. She still remembers delivering food to the homes of low-income residents and to senior centers at the age of 10.
Now at 38, Diana Toledo, a Filipino American born and raised in Seattle, wants to continue in public service but on a much larger scale. On June 3, she announced her candidacy to represent King County’s District 8 — which covers the International District, West Seattle, SoDo, Pioneer Square, Normandy Park, Burien, North Highline, West Beacon Hill, Maury and Vashon Islands, and parts of Tukwila, SeaTac, and West Hill.
She will join three other candidates for the position in the Aug. 17 primary election.
Toledo attended Nathan Hale High School, graduated in 1990, and pursued her college education at the University of Washington. She found one area of study to be of particular interest. “I took a number of courses in political science because I had planned on going to law school and may still end up doing that in the future,” said Toledo.
Her father, Lauriston Robello Toledo, immigrated to the United States from Kawit in the Philippine province of Cavite. He earned his U.S. citizenship by serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He currently works as a delivery truck driver.
As a college student, she took a job in 1993 selling pet licenses door-to-door for King County and was recognized as the top salesperson.
In 1994, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis on finance. Her recognition as a top salesperson helped her get her next job as a King County animal control officer.
Looking back on her 15-year career working for King County, Toledo said, “I took various roles. I worked my way up.” She started her next job as a license inspector in 1997 and said, “It was the most interesting job and career in my life. … I learned so much in that role working with attorneys.”
She said, “After only about a year and a half, I found myself managing the operations of the program including marriage licensing, pet licensing, and the taxi cab licensing program.”
Toledo says cronyism has negatively impacted the citizens of King County. The lack of accountability “has always concerned me.”
She feels that her extensive work experience qualifies her to represent District 8. “I’ve always worked hard in whatever role I was in, to do my best, to improve it, to find solutions, and to bring people together. And I’ve had great success at that in areas of taxi cab regulations, in areas of animal care and control, other business licensing areas, and community service centers as well.”
“I’m running because of the reforms that I believe are necessary in local government.”
Her supporters include former co-workers, taxicab drivers, and animal welfare organizations. “Essentially, all of the support that was coming around me, maybe, it was meant to be used for something bigger and better than just saving my mid-level manager position,” she explained. Other factors, she says, include her passion for both public service and King County.
Toledo’s campaign focuses on three issues: fiscal responsibility, local business incentives and job creation, and safe streets via youth outreach.
With a $60 million budget deficit next year, she said, “I believe that if we can find efficiencies, if we bring real reform to how we manage our local government, with real accountability, we can be more fiscally responsible in a way that we can save services that affect our senior citizens, children, our small businesses, and that we can actually eliminate a lot of waste.”
A resident of West Seattle for the last 10 years, Toledo enjoys spending time with her husband, Jerry, a small-business owner, and their three daughters.
“In order for Asians to have a voice in politics, they must be represented. Diana Toledo is a perfect candidate to be that voice. It is very important to have minority representation on the King County Council,” said Jeannie Chow, a King County license inspector who has known Toledo since 1997.
“Diana Toledo is the epitome of the dedicated public servant. Customer service, being responsive and accountable to the public and stakeholders, agencies and jurisdictions inside and outside of King County, are hallmarks of her career in King County.”
“She works well with diverse populations and is a natural leader,” Chow added. ♦
For more information about Diana Toledo, go to www.votetoledo.com.
James Tabafunda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.