Budget will be a top priority

State Sen. Aaron Reardon said he’ll use his first 100 days as Snohomish County’s next county executive to scrutinize the way the county is spending taxpayers’ dollars.

"I am a budget guy," Reardon said. "In that 100 days, we will really drill down on the budget and fully understand the financial health of the county. Once that’s complete, we will look at structure and personnel."

Reardon replaces outgoing County Executive Bob Drewel Jan. 1 and will be the third Democrat to serve in the position. Reardon, who was elected to the state Senate last year and has served two terms in the state House representing the 38th District, beat Edmonds City Councilman Dave Earling in the race for county executive on Nov. 4.

Drewel is mulling options on what he’ll do after he leaves his post. He could not seek re-election because of term limits.

Reardon said he’s talked to Drewel about the changeover and has started assembling a transition team.

"We are in the very infant stages of that," Reardon said.

He also said it was premature to talk about staffing changes in the executive’s office. The county executive oversees departments that have an annual general fund budget of more than $172 million, and the executive has a staff of 14 that includes the deputy executive, two executive directors, analysts, administrative assistants and others.

All told, the county has approximately 2,700 employees.

"I think the county has incredible talent, so I’m not of the mind that we need to overhaul and start rapidly firing people," Reardon said. "My goal is to just do some fine tuning."

Reardon said he plans to meet early in his administration with members of the Republican-controlled county council, as well as with other elected officials and county employees. He also will keep his seat in the Senate until year’s end to wrap up work in Olympia.

Gov. Gary Locke has called a special session of the Legislature for Dec. 5, to address a bill to cancel next year’s presidential primary.

Beyond that, Reardon said he wants to finish helping constituents who have asked for help on workers compensation cases and other matters. Reardon said he didn’t want to hand off that work to his successor.

"Especially with the holidays coming up, I want to get that taken care of, helping these folks," he said.

The Snohomish County Council will eventually vote on Reardon’s replacement in Olympia, choosing from three candidates picked by Democrats.

County Auditor Bob Terwilliger said he expects the Snohomish County Democratic Party Central Committee to call for a meeting where precinct committee officers will vote to choose three nominees to fill Reardon’s Senate seat. The county council would then pick the replacement from those candidates, Terwilliger said.

The new senator will then serve until a vote is held next year and a person is chosen to complete the remaining two years of Reardon’s term.

Reardon said Rep. Jean Berkey, D-Everett, has contacted him and expressed interest in the Senate appointment.

Reporter Brian Kelly: 425-339-3422 or kelly@heraldnet.com.

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