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King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski

Serving the communities of Bothell, Kenmore, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, North Seattle, Shoreline, and Woodinville
Councilmember
Rod Dembowski
Council District 1

516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-477-1001
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

Read my Report to Constituents

Metro Transit Update

Over these past several months, the Council has deliberated over the best path forward to address the financial challenges facing Metro Transit. Through these deliberations, I have consistently held the position that we must exhaust all options to prevent draconian bus cuts that would devastate Metro workers and Metro transit riders who rely on our buses to get to work, school, the grocery store, and medical appointments, while making the system more cost efficient for taxpayers and riders. This Monday, July 21, the King County Council took an important step in advancing those goals as we unanimously approved a compromise plan that I developed in cooperation with the County Executive and fellow Councilmembers. Our plan moves forward with certain bus service reductions for Metro, while deferring an additional 200,000 hours of service reductions originally proposed for June and September 2015, pending adoption of the 2015/2016 King County budget.

I am especially proud of Monday’s compromise as it was reflective of and responsive to community concerns. As elected officials we can’t be stagnant or stuck in our ways, especially when doing so hurts our economy and prevents people from getting to work, school, or the hospital. The plan is a budget-based approach that acknowledges the changing realities of our growing economy and community, and sets us on a path to prevent more than 1/3 of the originally proposed cuts.

Here are the highlights of the plan: 

The ordinance implements only the service reductions originally proposed for September of this year, with a focus on cutting bus routes that are in the bottom 25 percent of productivity in accordance with the County’s adopted Transit Service Guidelines.  

The adopted legislation also authorizes 188,000 hours of service to be cut in February 2015. This number may be adjusted based on new economic data; routes will be identified later. While all cuts to bus service are painful, Monday’s action puts on hold more than 200,000 hours of proposed cuts in June and September of 2015. 

The ordinance also calls for a report from the County Executive describing revenue and expense reduction options available to avoid service reductions proposed for 2015. This report will build on existing work to identify further savings and additional revenue already underway by the County Council, including an independent audit of Metro's operations, finances and fund balance policies, changing fare policies to increase revenue, and a peer review of Metro.

The compromise requires additional community input and calls for community workshops on proposed transit reductions with affected communities and stakeholders. And finally, it requires a report to be transmitted to the County Council with any future service reduction proposal, detailing other options considered.

I am very pleased by the broad based community support for my plan. It is supported by the League of Women Voters, the Washington State Hospital Association, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and elected officials from throughout King County. For more details about my legislation, click here.


Memorial Day 2014

Rod chats with Gerry Shogren, Commander Starr Sutherland Jr. Post No. 227 of The American Legion about the proposed veterans' memorial

Rod chats with Gerry Shogren, Commander Starr Sutherland Jr. Post No. 227 of The American Legion about the proposed veterans' memorial.

 Rod with General Cho (far right) and General Cho’s aides
Rod with General Cho (far right) and General Cho’s aides.

For the second year in a row I’ve had the honor of joining local veterans at the annual Memorial Day service and concert at the Evergreen-Washelli Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery. This year I had the opportunity to make remarks and present the King County Council Memorial Day Proclamation.             

More than 100 volunteers gathered bright and early on the holiday morning to place American flags on all 5,000 graves in the Veterans Memorial Cemetery.  The annual concert was performed by the Seattle Pacific University Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Drum Corp and keynote remarks were provided by Brigadier General John M. Cho, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army’s Western Regional Medical Command.

Memorial Day also serves as a reminder to make sure veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned. I am happy to report that King County runs a Veterans Program to assist veterans with housing, health care, and job training needs. You can learn more here.  King County also sponsors the HERO internship program for veterans. More information on the HERO program is contained in this video.


Skykomish Initiative

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Charlie Raines and Rod, learning about the Skykomish Valley.
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Rod with Charlie Raines, Skykomish Mayor Tony Grider, and other community leaders.
When I first explored my run for the King County Council, I sat down for a cup of coffee with a longtime friend, Charlie Raines, the Forest Conservation Director at Forterra. It was then I learned of some of the very last unprotected old-growth forest left in King County near the town of Skykomish. I was in awe that in a county that has seen such rapid development and growth, more than 150 year old forests have gone unscathed. I was reminded of camping trips with my father where he told us to appreciate old-growth forest as they “wouldn’t be around forever.” Preserving these precious forests has been high priority for me. 

This sparked a partnership with Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents Skykomish and has worked tirelessly throughout her tenure to promote economic development in a town that has seen more than its share of hardships. 

Together with Councilmember Lambert, the town of Skykomish, Forterra, and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, we developed a vision and co-authored the Skykomish Valley Economic Development, Recreation, and Natural Resource Conservation Initiative. The initiative recognizes the shared goals of the town of Skykomish and the Stevens Pass Greenway to enhance economic development, increase recreation opportunities, and conserve the natural resources in the Skykomish Valley.

On April 28th the King County Council took an important step in making this vision a reality, when we unanimously passed the initiative. This legislation was recognized by the Everett Herald as a model for rural economic development and natural resource conservation. There are already several exciting projects that are beginning to take form, from restoring the Historic Skykomish Hotel, to building new trailheads, to preserving 150 year old forests. I will use my regular e-news to keep you updated with the progress in the Skykomish Valley. 


 Rod and Dr. Diana Pearce, Director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington.

Rod and Dr. Diana Pearce, Director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington, after Dr. Pearce’s briefing on income inequality and gender pay disparity at the March 18 TrEE committee meeting.


Briefings on Gender, Race and Ethnicity Pay Disparity at King County

As the newly appointed Chair of TrEE, I’ve focused the committee’s work on issues of pay equity and income disparity. For that reason, the committee has hosted a series of briefings on the results of a preliminary study on gender, race and ethnicity pay disparity amongst county employees.  You can find copies of these presentations here and here.

I requested these briefings so we can act in a smart and effective way to address disparities in our workforce compensation. In the briefings, King County’s Human Resources Department stated that they will be taking proactive steps to address disparities when updating the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action plan this June.  

My goal is for King County to be the national leader on policies to reduce disparities, and advance economic opportunity for all of King County’s residents. These briefings are not only an opportunity to highlight and change inequities here at the county, but to model the importance of these policies to other entities within and outside the county.


County Council adopts Socially Responsible Banking Law

At the February 24th meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council, I was honored to have the unanimous support of all of my colleagues for a “socially responsible banking” ordinance that I co-sponsored with Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott. The new law aims to ensure that King County’s primary financial institutions must demonstrate their commitment to providing lending, investing and community banking services (such as access to loans, check cashing, and the ability to make deposits) to traditionally underserved and disadvantaged communities. Read more.
 Walking fast food workers back to work at 5:00 following their walk-out in support of a living wage.

Walking fast food workers back to work at 5:00 a.m. following their walk-out in support of a living wage.

King County Council starts work on “Living Wage” policy

We must clear away the hurdles between our residents and the promise of America, and a good-paying job is the best means to that end. For that reason, I introduced legislation calling for establishment of a living wage policy for King County employees and County contractors. This living wage policy will help many residents rise out of the ranks of the working poor and cross the threshold of the American Dream. Read more.


Councilmember Dembowski calls for a King County Youth Action Plan

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Rod at the Renway Boys and Girls Club.

As a kid growing up here, King County played an important role in my life. I played in our county parks, and received health care at our Public Health clinics. Today’s kids deserve our best efforts to ensure that they have every opportunity to grow up healthy, safe, and succeed in life. 

For that reason, joined by my colleagues, I introduced legislation calling for a King County Youth Action Plan. I was honored that this legislation was approved unanimously in January by the King County Council.

This legislation brings together the broad spectrum of participants from throughout the region who help King County’s children and youth to recommit our collective efforts and honor our obligations as adults to the next generation.

The adopted legislation calls for the creation of a broadly-based task force to develop a Youth Action Plan for the King County Council by the spring of 2015.

The legislation can be found here and you can learn more information about the plan here. Please share your thoughts and opinions with me at (206) 296-1001 or Rod.Dembowski@KingCounty.gov.


Report to Constituents

I am honored to serve you, and I think it is important that I take the time to update you on the work I am doing on the King County Council. For that reason, I want to take the opportunity to provide an in-depth report on the work we've accomplished together since I took office in February. In this first year, I've met with many of you in our community and heard from you at town halls, neighborhood association meetings, Rotaries and community events. I've used your input to guide my priorities at the Council. Reporting to you on our legislative priorities and accomplishments is crucial to having an open and transparent dialogue. I hope you take the time to read my Report to Constituents and share your thoughts and opinions.  


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Rod and Councilmember Jane Hague’s joint town hall in Kirkland.

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Rod answering speaking with a group of constituents at his Lake Forest Park Town Hall regarding property taxes.

Town Halls

To date, I’ve hosted town halls in the communities of: Shoreline with Sheriff John Urquhart, North Seattle with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Kenmore with Mayor David Baker, Woodinville with Mayor Bernie Talmas, Lake Forest Park with Assessor Lloyd Hara, Kirkland with Councilmember Jane Hague, a community coffee in Bothell, and a Korean American Coalition of Washington town hall.

I’ve also participated in various transportation forums including an Eastside Transportation forum and Aging and Disability Services Advisory Council transportation forum at the Northshore Senior Center. These meetings have been a great opportunity to hear directly from the community. 


 Image: recognition of 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice

60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice

At the July 22 meeting of the King County Council, Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer and I sponsored a Recognition commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. We were thrilled to honor those Korean War Veterans in attendance, who are part of the more than 55,000 Korean War Veterans in Washington State.

Young Wan Song, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle, also took part in the ceremony and presented Veterans with Ambassador of Peace Medals. It was an especially proud moment for me, as my 84-year-old father, a Korean War Veteran, Al Dembowski, also received a medal in gratitude for his service. 

Although the war is often referred to as the "Forgotten War," the impact of the service of the men and women who fought is felt throughout King County. In part, thanks to these brave men and women's service, King County is now home to a thriving Korean American population. 

The commemoration was truly an honor for me to sponsor as we remembered those who participated in the "Forgotten War."

Image: Facebook gallery collage


Image: Dembowski van donation

District 1 Van Donations 2013

Each year, King County Councilmembers have the opportunity to donate retired Metro vanpool vans to nonprofit agencies and local governments to meet the needs of senior citizens, people with disabilities, youth, and low-income people.

Our office had plenty of qualified applicants this year; here are the three organizations we selected:

So far I’ve had the opportunity to deliver the donated vans to the Boys and Girls Club and SHAG. Take a look at the great pictures!

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District 1 Boards and Commissions

Of the 49 citizen boards and commissions in King County, 7 are comprised of people from each Council District. As a King County Councilmember, I get to appoint an individual as a representative from the District to serve on these boards and commissions. These boards and commissions are:

• Civil Rights Commission
• Conservation Futures Citizen Oversight Committee
• Harborview Medical Center Board of Trustees
• Parks Levy Oversight Board
• Regional Human Services Levy Oversight Board
• Veterans Citizen Levy Oversight Board
• Women's Advisory Board

We are currently looking to fill available board and commission positions with representatives from District 1 on both the Civil Rights Commission and the Regional Human Services Levy Oversight Board. The Civil Rights Commission advises the County Executive and County Council on matters related to the county's civil rights programs and on human and civil rights issues. The Regional Human Services Levy Oversight Board helps oversee the proper distribution of human services funds from the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy. If you or someone you know would like to serve as your community's representative, please email me at rod.dembowski@kingcounty.gov or call 206-296-1001.


2013 Constituents' Survey

Image: Rod Dembowski with surveys

Rod with a stack of survey responses.

This Spring, I sent out my first constituents' survey to households in District 1. So far, more than 2,000 residents have taken the time to complete and return the survey. I am personally reviewed each and every survey response, and read all of the additional comments submitted. Answers to the questions, and comments and suggestions will help guide the priorities and goals I set while in office. Moreover, your input gives me a better understanding of your views on many of the issues that we are working on here at King County. If you would still like the opportunity to take the survey, it is  available here.

The survey asked for your views on issues currently before the King County Council, including funding for our roads and transit infrastructure, human services, and ranking legislative priorities; however the question regarding the Office of Public Defense solicited the most feedback. Many respondents to this question on the survey had not heard of this issue before and desired additional information. For that reason, I wanted to take the time to provide some clarity on this issue of great importance and broad ranging implications.

Under the United States and Washington State constitutions, King County is obligated to provide counsel to indigent defendants charged with a serious crime. A recent ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court held that the employees of four non-profit, independent public defense agencies that have provided these services on behalf of King County for forty years are entitled to the same benefits as county employees. Accordingly, on July 1st, these employees will be formally recognized as King County employees pursuant to a settlement agreement.

As we work through changes to our public defense system, I am working to ensure that we preserve independence from improper political influence that could interfere with this important function. I also want to protect the ability of our public defenders to work on important criminal justice system reforms, since they are often first to identify potential improvements to the system given their work on the front lines. Click here to read my Opinion Editorial. If you would like to learn more about this issue and my work on it at the County Council, I encourage you to read this, and get back to me with your thoughts, opinions and suggestions.