With 2022 rapidly drawing to a close, the King County Council is getting ready for the new year ahead. Today, the Council announced its leadership and committee assignments for 2023. The biggest change is that Dave Upthegrove of the 5th District will be taking over as Chair of the Council, succeeding Claudia Balducci.
“My priority will be to support and strengthen our democratic institutions and demonstrate that democracy can work,” Upthegrove said in a statement published by the Council. “Our guiding value will be respect. This means respect for one another, for our exceptional staff, and for the people we serve.”
The position of Chair of the Council rotates slowly among councilmembers who are from the Council’s Democratic majority. The position has been held by Balducci for three years, through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nine-member body is King County’s legislative branch, responsible for making laws at the county level. King County is by far the largest local jurisdiction in the state, with 2,252,305 residents according to a 2021 estimate.
The county is bigger in population than more than a dozen states in the United States. It also has a larger land area than either Rhode Island or Delaware.
No King County Council positions were on the ballot this cycle because they are regularly voted upon in odd-years, though thanks to the success of a charter amendment conceived here at NPI, that’s about to change. Balducci and her Council colleagues from even-numbered districts will be running for three-year terms next year rather than four-year terms. Beginning in 2026, those positions will be for terms of four years again, and will be voted upon in midterm cycles.
The Council’s current membership is:
- Rod Dembowski, 1st District
- Girmay Zahilay, 2nd District
- Sarah Perry, 3rd District
- Jeanne Kohl-Welles, 4th District
- Dave Upthegrove, 5th District
- Claudia Balducci, 6th District
- Pete von Reichbauer, 7th District
- Joe McDermott, 8th District
- Reagan Dunn, 9th District
In addition to naming Upthegrove Chair, the Council also set its committee leadership for the 2023 calendar year. Leadership is as follows:
- Committee of the Whole: Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Chair; Claudia Balducci, Vice Chair
- Budget and Fiscal Management: Joe McDermott, Chair; Rod Dembowski, Vice Chair
- Law, Justice, Health and Human Services: Girmay Zahilay, Chair; Sarah Perry, Vice Chair
- Transportation, Economy and Environment: Rod Dembowski, Chair; Pete von Reichbauer, Vice Chair
- Local Services and Land Use: Sarah Perry, Chair; Girmay Zahilay, Vice Chair
- Government Accountability and Oversight: Pete von Reichbauer, Chair; Joe McDermott, Vice Chair
- Employment and Administration: Dave Upthegrove, Chair; Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Vice Chair
- Regional Policy Committee: Pete von Reichbauer, Chair
- Regional Transportation Committee: Sarah Perry, Chair
- Regional Water Quality Committee: Claudia Balducci, Chair
Upthegrove, a former state legislator, is known for his exemplary environmental advocacy and stewardship. He served in the Legislature from 2002 until 2013, when he joined the Council. He is a member of the Sound Transit Board of Directors. He will assume his new responsibilities on January 1st, 2023.