Candidate Questionnaire, King County Council District 3
Your Current Occupation, and the duration in this position:
Attorney at law, Murphy Law Group (2002–Present)
Vice President, M2 Consulting & Resource Group (2002–Present)
Distance Learning Instructor—Fire and Emergency Services, University of Florida (2014–Present)
Distance Learning Instructor, National Emergency Training Center (2013–Present)
Physician Assistant, Multiple Washington State Locations (1977–Present)
Your Campaign Website:
Your Campaign Email:
info (at) electjohnmurphy.com
Why are you running for King County Council?
The King County Democrats endorsed my campaign because I bring decades of experience serving King County residents. As Deputy Fire Chief at Eastside Fire & Rescue, I lived and breathed the importance of maintaining focus and delivering results. I’m running because the Eastside is my home, and we are facing urgent issues that need to be addressed. Our roads are crumbling while traffic continues to get worse. Housing is becoming less affordable. Our environment is in danger. The county is well-positioned to address these issues, but rather than results, we are seeing missed opportunities while our elected representatives dither.
What are your priorities?
Our county roads budget is tremendously underfunded, by anywhere from $260 million to $400 million per year. The cost to maintain our infrastructure increases exponentially the longer we wait.
Working people are being priced out of our communities, and many of our fellow residents are without the security that comes with long-term housing.
The growth and development we are experiencing is lacking the foresight needed to properly mitigate the ripple effects that threaten the residents and natural environment of the Eastside.
How would you resolve these priorities?
We need to address our roads funding now. How much time and money has been spent forming Task Forces and hiring consultants to study our underfunded infrastructure? We have been told for the past 16 years that this will be resolved. We all use these roads, so we need an equitable revenue model that brings our big employers to the table and includes a fresh look at property tax caps and other sources. We need to preserve more affordable housing on the Eastside, and look at inclusionary requirements for developers. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road.
King County perpetually has financial limitations. County officials and candidates for office perpetually take about cutting spending by cutting waste and gaining efficiencies, but beyond campaign rhetoric, little seems to happen. What will you do to effect both?
Unlike my opponent, I do not believe that we should balance the budget on the backs of public sector workers and low-income senior residents. I will work with the Executive, County Council, and division heads to convene a work group to launch an in-depth study of revenue sources and expenses to determine actual costs of providing service as well as where we can offer relief to the taxpayer. I support the Lean program at the county, and would additionally like to bring big employers to the table to take a look at alternative revenue and management sources.
The King County Council approved an “Arts Tax” (which tailed in the August primary). There’s been a prospective “homeless” tax (which Seattle Mayor Ed Murray wants to county-wide). There have been a series of other taxes the County proposed during recent years. Following the ST3 tax, which caused sticker shock to many, what is your view generally of new County taxes? Are there any specific tax hikes or new taxes that you will support?
As a taxpayer on a fixed income, I’m appalled at the number of levies and taxes we actually pay for County programs. We are suffering from taxpayer fatigue and if we continue the frequency of asking taxpayers for more, future levies and initiatives will fail. I support a moratorium on all new taxes until we are able to evaluate every tax-supported program affecting County residents. I’ll work with the state to address the impact of unfunded mandates handed down to the counties. We should be much more transparent in proposals to the taxpayer—as noted in the ST3 expansion.
At this writing, neither of you on your websites talk about environmental protection as an overall County goal or policy. Why is that?
In fact, environmental protection is at the foundation of my growth and development goals. On my website, I discuss that we all moved here or stayed here because of the natural beauty of the Puget Sound region. I plan on working to keep it that way. My opponent, on the other hand, lists “economic development for rural and unincorporated areas” as one of her top priorities in comprehensive land-use planning.
What is your position on environmental protection, including tree retention, wetland and lake protection, buffers, etc.?
We need to enforce our codes. There are county codes in place to mitigate urban sprawl and preserve our rural areas. But the lack of code enforcement we’ve seen for the past several years has resulted in illegal tasting rooms popping up outside Woodinville city limits. Not only have they not been shut down, but they have been emboldened by statements of support from my opponent, who wants to open up our rural areas for developers. Speculators are now buying up rural properties at extraordinary prices in anticipation of code changes that will chip away at our protected rural areas.
How do you balance environmental protection with property rights and development?
Economic development and preserving our environment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We can protect our open spaces, maintain our parks, and prevent pollution and degradation from destroying our rivers while expanding access and opportunity to Eastside residents. As your County Councilmember, I will have an open-door policy because consequential decisions must include consideration of all affected Eastside residents. I welcome the counsel of property owners, developers, municipal partners, and residents to ensure an equitable and commonsense balance between environmental protection and property rights is maintained.
Sammamish is now a City of about 60,000 people, ranking it the fourth largest on the Eastside (after Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond). Yet Sammamish continues to struggle to get money King County roads on which residents depend and transit services from Metro Transit. What will you do to direct money and solutions to Sammamish for its residents, who are also your constituents?
When I was the Deputy Fire Chief of King County Fire District 10—now Eastside Fire & Rescue—and the Sammamish Plateau was unincorporated—transportation infrastructure development didn’t keep pace with the building development that occurred. Due to incorporations and annexations, the county taxpayer base has decreased more than expected under the Growth Management Act, and the state legislature needs to lift revenue restrictions. We need to stop transferring funds out of our roads budget. I will look at sales-tax revenue-sharing between municipalities and the county as well as our ROI on tax incentives given to large employers.
King County owns Sahalee Way from the Sammamish City limits to SR 202, 244th Ave. NE from the City limits to SR 202 and a section of Duthie Hill Road along “the Notch” between two segments that are within Sammamish City limits. This limits Sammamish’s ability to undertake road improvements that may improve congestion. The County has taken the position it has no money to improve these roads in order to effect a congestion solution by Sammamish. What would you do to help Sammamish?
“No money” really means that the County has been prioritizing funding other programs. When examining the road problems over the last 25 years, the approach seemed to be to watch and wait to see how development would affect the existing road infrastructure. I will work with the state to lift revenue restrictions, partner with large corporations in the region, rebalance the sales tax between the cities and the County, and increase the scope of developer concurrency fees. I agree with Sammamish’s recent moratorium on new development in an effort to implement a revised traffic model.
King County approved thousands of homes and commercial development that uses Issaquah-Fall City Road, yet never used its concurrency funds to improve the road. Following the annexation of the greater Klahanie area to Sammamish, the City now faces an estimated $54 million bill to make improvements King County neglected. Are you prepared to seek County allocation of money for these improvements that were intended through the collection of concurrency monies?
Government needs to do what it says it will do. Concurrency fees collected when the county approved the building of these large planned communities need to be allocated appropriately. I remember the negotiations between the County, Issaquah, and Sammamish as to who was going to annex Klahanie and who was going to pay for improvement to the roads and parks—neither City wanted to assume the liability for making those improvements. This has remained a contentious issue and the urgency has only increased. I’ll work to restore those funds towards the improvement of this critical roadway.
East Lake Sammamish Trail
Construction over the current south leg of East Lake Sammamish Trail is back in court over the placement of two stop signs. The County believes the cross-street should have the stop signs and the trail-users the right of way. Sammamish believes it has jurisdiction over how to regulate its traffic control devices on its streets. What is your view of this never-ending controversy?
I believe management of the traffic flow over this pathway is within the city’s jurisdiction. At the trail intersection on NE 65th Street in the City of Redmond, for instance, there are stop signs for the trail users and not the traffic. This is a safety issue that is best handled by cities, which may decide that pedestrians should stop and wait for the infrequent traffic at these locations to pass.
The Center Section of ELST is the most difficult section that is next on final development. Some homes not only abut the trail right of way but a few are within it. King County permitted these homes before Sammamish was incorporated and now attempts to exercise its property rights which may conflict with some of the homes with conflicts that it permitted in the first place. As the County Council Member representing these homeowners, how would you attempt to resolve or mediate between King County (which you are employed by) Sammamish and the homeowners (whom you represent on the Council)?
This issue has been a contentious since I arrived as the Deputy Fire Chief for King County Fire District 10, now Eastside Fire & Rescue, 30 years ago. There are no simple answers to this issue and it is incumbent on your elected representative to resolve this issue without undue harm to the current homeowners. Affected property owners have invested considerable time and money into property improvement and I believe that the County, which permitted these occupancies, should abide by those original agreements and make the necessary accommodations to resolve this ongoing issue in a way that satisfies all sides.
Sammamish has a lack of affordable housing. Although it participates in ARCH and a Habitat for Humanity project is under development, this is not enough. What would you do as a County Council Member to coordinate with Sammamish to provide more affordable housing in Sammamish?
People and families should be able to live close to where they work. It is therefore critical that we take better advantage of opportunities to expand affordable housing, and I admire programs such as ARCH and Habitat for Humanity for the considerable value they add. I will work with the City of Sammamish to ensure affordable housing availability keeps pace with demand, and will seek to find innovative ways to make it happen. I was pleased when speaking to the city manager, who indicated that an increase in affordable housing units is planned with the new multifamily housing projects.
Why should voters choose you over your opponent to represent them on King County Council?
For the first time in many years, Eastside voters have a progressive choice in their representation on the King County Council. The King County Democrats and every Democratic organization across the Eastside has endorsed my campaign because they know that my leadership experience and fresh perspective are urgently needed to address the issues facing our community.
My opponent, who was elected as a Republican and even contributed to Donald Trump’s campaign, has called for repealing the Open Public Meetings Act and voted to slash in half levy funding for senior services. This is unacceptable and speaks volumes about her priorities.
Time for a change, or staying the course
Kathy Lambert was elected to the King County Council in 2001.
For Kathy Lambert: Isn’t 16 years in office enough time for any elected official? Isn’t it time for a new perspective, fresh ideas and eliminating the prospect of an official who has become “ingrained” in the office?
(N/A to Murphy—Editor).
For John Murphy: An elected official with 16 years in office has experience, institutional knowledge knows the ins-and-outs and has established relationships not only within the Council and King County government, but also throughout the District. In this case, doesn’t Lambert have the advantage over a newcomer to the office?
There is an inevitable learning curve for anyone entering a new position, but even more important to consider is the value that a fresh perspective adds to resolve seemingly intractable issues. I have spoken with elected officials from the County and cities throughout the Eastside, and the consensus seems to be that my opponent is far more interested in her pet projects than resolving the issues impacting Eastside residents. My opponent’s inch-deep-mile-wide approach has lacked the focus that is needed to actually deliver results. Even if it isn’t politically beneficial, our spending priorities should reflect the population we serve.