The King County Council on Wednesday unanimously elected Councilmember Claudia Balducci as chair during its first full meeting of 2020 as a part of a reorganization motion, which also re-appointed Reagan Dunn and appointed Joe McDermott as vice chairs.
The motion also set in place a new committee structure that will foster transparency and create a forum where all nine members collaborate, according to a county council news release.
“Our county’s booming economy and rapid growth present both opportunities and challenges that affect all of us, not just as individual cities and towns, but as a region,” Balducci said in the release. “The King County Council is ideally situated to act as a leader and convener to work with our partners throughout King County and the Puget Sound and build solutions together. As chair, I will be committed to fiscal stewardship, regional collaboration and quality government at King County in 2020.”
Balducci succeeds Councilmember Rod Dembowski who served as council chair in 2019.
“I’ve been honored to serve as chair of the council in 2019 and proud of the work we achieved by working together,” Dembowski said. “I thank Councilmembers Balducci and Dunn for their help and support as vice chairs in 2019, and I look forward to working with Chair Balducci in 2020 to expand transit, protect our environment, invest in critical infrastructure, and support our vulnerable populations.”
Dunn has served four previous terms as vice chair.
“It’s a great honor to be selected by my colleagues to serve another term on the council’s leadership team,” Dunn said. “My goal as vice chair is to broaden the council’s collaboration with suburban and rural areas as we work together for regional solutions. I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
McDermott will chair the Committee of the Whole.
“A tremendous amount of work faces the county this year, and the council is well positioned to play a constructive and collaborative role in our work to cultivate a just, equitable and thriving region,” McDermott said. “I’m eager to contribute the council’s leadership as we embark on the challenges ahead with this new council – let’s get to work.”
The 2020 council reorganization will provide council members opportunities to work together transparently and collaboratively. A new work session attached to the Committee of the Whole will provide an opportunity for all members to preview upcoming action items in a study-session format that is open to the public. Also, following the recent passage of a regional homelessness governance legislation, the council reorganization motion elevates the county’s homelessness response to the Committee of the Whole.
As chair, Balducci is the first woman since Councilmember Julia Patterson in 2008 to chair the King County Council and the first Eastsider serving as chair since Councilmember Louise Miller held the position in 1999.
Recently re-elected to her second term on the council, Balducci previously served on the Bellevue City Council, including as mayor, where she was a strong advocate for light rail and stewarded the contentious EastLink agreement with Sound Transit to fruition. In addition to her role on the County Council, Balducci serves as vice president of the Puget Sound Regional Council, Chair of the Sound Transit System Expansion Committee and she convened and chairs the King County Affordable Housing Committee.
The legislation also established the following committees and appoints these council members to chair the following:
• Committee of the Whole + Work Session – Joe McDermott
• Budget and Fiscal Management – Jeanne Kohl-Welles
• Community, Health and Housing Services – Kathy Lambert
• Government Accountability and Oversight – Pete von Reichbauer
• Law & Justice – Girmay Zahilay
• Local Services – Reagan Dunn
• Mobility and Environment – Rod Dembowski
• Regional Policy Committee – Pete von Reichbauer
• Regional Water Quality – Kathy Lambert
• Regional Transit Committee – Dave Upthegrove
Note: Dunn and Upthegrove represent districts that cover portions of Kent.