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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 31, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 22
SGN Exclusive Interview: Rep. Dave Upthegrove, candidate for King County Council
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SGN Exclusive Interview: Rep. Dave Upthegrove, candidate for King County Council

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Current State Rep. Dave Upthegrove wants a new job. Upthegrove, who has represented the 33rd Legislative District, based in South King County, since January 2002, is running for a King County Council seat being vacated by veteran councilmember Julia Patterson.

'I've been thinking about it for a while,' Upthegrove told SGN. 'I decided the weekend after Julia made her announcement [that she would retire].'

Patterson announced on April 28 that she would not seek re-election after 23 years on the County Council.

'I took a weekend to do the 'gut check,' Upthegrove explained, 'and I decided to go for it.'

Upthegrove, who was born and raised in the South King County district he hopes to represent on the council, says his roots in the area put him in a 'very strong position' for the campaign.

'The council district overlaps with my legislative district,' Upthegrove noted. 'I've already been representing most of these voters for 12 years, so this will be a very localized campaign. You know, when Julia [Patterson] endorsed me she said, 'He's a South County boy, just like I'm a South County girl.'

OPENLY GAY
If he is elected, Upthegrove will be the second openly Gay County Council member. Former State Sen. Joe McDermott was elected to the council in 2010.

Upthegrove called the fact 'unremarkable.'

'It's very exciting, but it's also not a big deal,' he told SGN. 'It shows how far we've come as a state. When Ed [Murray] was appointed [in 1995] every TV station had cameras covering it, but I don't think anyone was that interested that I'm Gay. Maybe it was the last paragraph in a newspaper story.'

However, 'we have to make sure we don't take it for granted,' he continued. 'There is a value in having Gay public officials. There's a value in role models, for younger people to know that they can be successful.

'And it does matter on policy. When I started down here [in Olympia] there was no relationship recognition. It was important for [openly Gay legislators] to be here, for the rest of them to know us and to realize they're not that much different from us.

'And for those who were opposed [to LGBT rights] to have to look us in the eye and know they're talking about us.'

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
Upthegrove added that he has won the endorsements of a couple of his Republican colleagues in the state House, Minority Leader Richard DeBolt and Rep. Jay Rodne.

'I've always tried to treat people with respect,' he said, 'and I'm proud that after a decade-plus of serving in the legislature side by side - even if we don't agree on a lot of the issues - they know I'm an honest guy and I try to represent my constituents.'

Asked what his priorities would be if he is elected to the County Council, Upthegrove immediately replied that he would try 'to see that South King County is treated in a fair manner.'

'Sometimes,' he continued, 'it seems like the forgotten stepchild. Because Seattle has the population, it has most of the representation. But South King County has the most poverty, it's the most diverse, and it has the highest needs.'

Upthegrove also said he would give a high priority to environmental issues. He is currently chair of the House Environment Committee, and he got his degree in environmental conservation from the University of Colorado.

'It will mainly be things my colleagues think are boring,' he laughed. 'The legislature can pass sweeping environmental legislation, but it's up to counties to figure out how to manage stormwater.'

Asked what particular problems he foresaw if elected, Upthegrove answered, 'The budget. How to keep the budget balanced without eliminating services. The county has a structural deficit, like the state, but the county has fewer options to deal with it than the state does.'

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