Balducci runs against Hirt for District 6 county council seat

The former Bellevue mayor is essentially running unopposed.

The Metropolitan King County Council District 6 race should be a shoe-in for incumbent Claudia Balducci, who is running essentially unopposed to preserve her seat representing the Eastside district.

Balducci is running against Bill Hirt, who declined to comment for this story. In an email, he directed readers to his stopeastlinknow blog, which chronicles his opposition to Sound Transit’s East Link project that will bring light rail to the Eastside. It is the eighth time he’s run a similar campaign.

Balducci was elected to the county council in 2015 after serving as mayor of Bellevue. Before that, she spent 12 years on its city council. She said housing, transit and making government run better were among her top priorities.

“District 6 has got Mercer Island, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, all the points communities, small parts of Bothell and Woodinville,” she said. “You know, it’s an expensive area, but it’s going to turn into an exclusive area if we don’t do something to make sure people don’t get priced out of even modestly expensive homes in our area.”

Balducci said in her first term, she has laid the groundwork for future policy, including helping create a regional task force on housing affordability, which delivered its report late last year. It quantified the need for housing and made recommendations on how to get there. It also laid the groundwork for a committee of cities and corporations, which held its first meeting this summer to find ways to increase affordable housing.

“All of the county’s cities and the county agreed to these. That was actually one of the major accomplishments I’m most proud of,” Balducci said.

Since nearly all of her district is incorporated, Balducci said she has limited authority to write legislation directly, but can propose collaborative ways to work with both the county and the cities she represents. These include making recommendations for protecting renters protections along with land use reform that could allow more affordable housing to be built.

“If elected to another term, I want to really continue that regional cooperative work with the counties and the cities to advocate for and push forward policies,” she said

Balducci serves on the Sound Transit board of directors and said she would like to implement fare restructuring to assist more low-income residents. She also expressed support for affordable housing near transit hubs as part of transit-oriented development projects.

Balducci disagreed with Hirt’s opposition to Sound Transit and the East Link project.

“I think every major, successful metro region in this country and most places in the world have fixed route, high capacity mass transit systems,” she said.

Balducci also hopes to make the county government run smoother. In her first term, she said a paperwork reduction policy was implemented. The county found that one-third of routine reports weren’t required and were consequently eliminated.

“It’s important to me that we pull out some aspect of what we’re doing and take a good look,” she said.

The general election will be held on Nov. 5, and ballots will be mailed out on Oct. 16.

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