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caption: King County Executive Dow Constantine
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King County Executive Dow Constantine
Credit: KUOW PHOTO/JASON PAGANO

'We cannot wait for a global solution' - King County Executive talks homelessness, the environment, and more

If you live or do business in King County, you're probably curious about local policy decisions and how your government is running things.

We asked for your questions for King County Executive Dow Constantine.... and you delivered.

King County Executive Dow Constantine sat down with Soundside Thursday to answer listener questions.

When asked about the county's role in Seattle's recent clearing of Woodland Park in Phinney Ridge, Constantine emphasized that the King County Regional Homeless Authority is a separate entity from his office, and he's not privy to their conversations with cities like Seattle. But the basic principle, he says, is simple.

"We can't expect you to move when there's nowhere to move to," he said. "Chasing people from one park to another, one corner to another, is fruitless."

That changes, Constantine said, when supportive housing or 24-hour shelter is offered.

"Folks need to accept that as a step forward in their lives," he said. "For the those few who are not willing to do that, who insist on staying, of course it's appropriate to relocate them. But it is not the first step you take. It's after you've tried to provide them the help they need."

Constantine also spoke about the public's desire for a well staffed Sheriff's Office, which he said was reflected in a recent survey done by King County. The survey also found that almost half of respondents want a non-police alternative crisis response for 911 calls, particularly for calls that involve homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues. In response, Constantine said he would be working with the new King County sheriff, and preparing his bi-annual budget, with a new system in mind.

"This is going to be, you know, working to create a system where we can lead with the kind of help that a person in crisis needs," he said. "Rather than having a single tool to respond to a whole variety of crises."