This just in from the King County Courthouse: Minutes ago, in a unanimous 8–0 vote, the King County Council chose attorney Rod Dembowski to succeed Bob Ferguson as the next Councilmember from the 1st District (North Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore, Kirkland).
Dembowski was one of three individuals named by King County Executive Dow Constantine as finalists for the position last month, the others being State Representative Cindy Ryu and Shoreline City Councilmember Will Hall.
Dembowski, a forty-one year old lawyer at Foster Pepper, had the backing of Ferguson (now our state’s attorney general), a long list of community leaders supporting him, and was the only candidate to earn either an endorsement or a recommendation from each of the district’s legislative district (LD) organizations.
As Councilmember Kathy Lambert put it in her final remarks prior to the appointment vote, Rod “has friends everywhere”.
Dembowski was not the first choice of Councilmembers Larry Gossett, Jane Hague, or Lambert; however, in the interest of unity, they all voted in favor of the motion to appoint him on final passage. That made the vote that mattered 8–0. (The vote to advance Dembowski’s nomination was 5–3; Councilmembers Phillips, McDermott, Patterson, Dunn, and von Reichbauer were the ayes).
Dembowski was promptly sworn in by the clerk of the King County Council, Anne Noris. After his swearing in, the council adjourned to take a photo with its newest member. That photo is expected to be published shortly on KingCounty.gov.
King County Executive Dow Constantine issued a statement praising Dembowski and the two other finalists he named.
“I congratulate Councilmember Rod Dembowski on his appointment as the new representative of King County Council District One,” Constantine said. “I have known Councilmember Dembowski for many years and have admired his work as an activist, an attorney, and a community volunteer. Rod has worked in County government, as an aide to former Executive Gary Locke, has practiced as a lawyer for a dozen years, and also brings a long record of public service to his new role.”
“I’d like to thank the members of the thirteen-member Citizens Advisory Committee that helped me choose an extraordinary group of finalists – Rod, State Rep. Cindy Ryu, and Shoreline City Councilmember Will Hall.”
“I salute the members of the King County Council for their thoughtful consideration of these nominees and I thank them for their decisive and timely action to provide excellent representation to the people of the First Council District.”
We at NPI extend our congratulations to Rod as well. The King County Council is one of the most important elected bodies in our region; it is the legislature for the state’s largest county, and its members often sit on other regional boards or commissions. All of the finalists named by Executive Constantine for the seat vacated by Bob Ferguson were strong progressives.
Unfortunately, the appointment could go to only one of the three.
I personally believe the Council has made a very wise decision. Rod will be a natural successor to Bob Ferguson — he brings energy and talent to the job, as well as a deep understanding of regional and local issues, as I noted to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Joel Connelly earlier today.
Rod has made it crystal clear he will be running to retain the seat. Cindy Ryu’s campaign team has indicated she would continue to seek the position if she was not appointed, but since she is a state legislator, she will be unable to raise money or campaign full time until the session ends. (State law prohibits elected leaders at the state level from raising money during a legislative session).
Rod, on the other hand, will be able to keep raising money and will likely see a new influx of donations now that he has been appointed.
The third finalist, Will Hall, has previously suggested he would not be interested in challenging either of the other finalists for the job if he did not get the appointment.
UPDATE: Will Hall has not ruled out running against Rod for the seat this August. In a message sent to his supporters, he said:
Over the next few days, I will be talking with family, friends, and supporters to evaluate my options. It has been an honor to serve as an elected councilmember for the City of Shoreline, and it would certainly be an honor to win a seat on the King County Council. Either way, I remain committed to representing my community with my values of trust, respect, and service. I will continue to work for the health and sustainability of our economy, our environment, and our neighborhoods.
No doubt Representative Ryu is evaluating her options as well. If either of them decide to run, we’ll let you know.