The Puget Sound region should “declare its independence” and form a more powerful regional government with more authority on decision-making and spending, he said.
“I would look to the Puget Sound Regional Council and I would put it on steroids,” Nickels said at the forum, which also featured Mayor Grant Degginger of Bellevue and Mayor John Marchione of Redmond. “It ought to have a real ability to make real decisions with the money we have.”
The regional government should have fewer members than the current regional council, Nickels said, and more authority over the region’s dollars.
Marchione said he would support having a regional body that functions that way. Degginger said after the forum that while he would support improvement in regional government, he isn’t sure what form it should take.
Nickels mentioned differences of opinion on gun control and transportation. He mentioned the Legislature’s “shot-gun marriage” of roads and transit on November’s failed Prop. 1.
If the region’s economy were extracted, Nickels said, it would be the 25th largest state, or would be a country larger than Venezuela or Equador. But he said the region is held back because the rest of the state doesn’t understand its needs.
“King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County; we have a lot in common,” Nickels said. “I’m serious when I say we ought to look at declaring independence.”