Larry was born and raised in King County with his two sisters, Sarah and Anne. His parents Margery and the late John Phillips instilled in him a love for learning and an active interest in his community. His father was an architect and United States Naval Officer, serving in the Pacific in WWII, and his mother wrote for the Seattle Times and began their "Home of the Month" feature, called "Northwest Living." He grew up in Mount Baker and Magnolia, where he still lives with his wife Gail, son Brett, and golden retriever Chase.
Larry attended Queen Anne High School and the University of Washington. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Willamette University College of Law, graduating with honors and finishing in the top ten percent of his class. He also earned a Masters of Law degree with emphasis in Labor Law from the George Washington University National Law Center.
After graduating from law school, Larry entered public service, moving to Washington, D.C. to work for Senator Henry M. "Scoop"Jackson. His primary staffing responsibilities were labor and tax issues.
Larry returned to Seattle to run Randy Revelle's campaign for King County Executive. Revelle won the election, and Larry served as his Chief of Staff. He learned about every aspect of King County government as he advised the Executive on all major policy, programmatic, and political decisions. After Revelle left office, Larry served as Executive Director of a 55-member Seattle law firm, Shidler McBroom Gates & Lucas.
Larry's interest in public service never waned, and in 1988 he won election to the Washington State House of Representatives. He went to Olympia to represent the 36th Legislative District, where he was a member of the House Education, Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Revenue Committees. He was an author and a prime sponsor of the 1990 Growth Management Act, as well as legislation to prevent oil spills in Puget Sound. He also fought successfully for smaller class sizes in public schools and adequate funding for K-12 education.
Metropolitan King County Council
After serving two terms in the legislature, Larry won his seat on the Metropolitan King County Council to represent District Four. On the Council, Larry has been a leader on such issues as, land use and water quality, salmon protection, parks and open space, fiscal management, transportation and clean energy, and jobs and the economy.
Upon joining the Council, Larry turned from his work adopting the Growth Management Act in the legislature to implementing GMA in Washington’s most populous county. Under GMA, King County has been able to stop the loss of farm and forest lands that was occurring rapidly in the 1980s. Larry’s work as chair of the Regional Water Quality Committee led to the adoption of the Regional Wastewater Services Plan to protect water quality in Puget Sound and Lake Washington while allowing economic growth and urban density to continue.
As a founding member of Water Resource Inventory Area (WRIA) 8, Larry helped coordinate a local response to the federal listing of Chinook Salmon as endangered. Larry has played a role in preserving over 165,000 acres of farm and forest land and salmon habitat as open space in King County during his time on the Council.
As the Council’s Budget Chair for three years during King County’s budget crisis, Larry presided over $170 million in cuts to stabilize the budget while protecting King County’s AAA bond rating and prioritizing public safety, public health, and the human services safety net. Larry also served for three years as Council Chair, overseeing the Council’s transition from thirteen to nine members and leading the change of the King County’s logo from a crown to an image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Larry was humbled and honored to be named the 2001 Public Official of the Year by the Municipal League of Seattle for his leadership in protecting and enhancing our quality of life through his work on land preservation and growth management in King County, and the 2010 Public Official of the Year by the 43rd District Democrats.
In recent years, Larry has turned his attention to transportation, clean energy, and jobs. As a Sound Transit Boardmember, he served as Chair of the Central Link Oversight Committee overseeing the on time, under budget construction of Link light rail from Downtown Seattle to Tukwila. Larry also led successful efforts to pass a regional mass transit expansion package that includes building 36 additional miles of light rail throughout the region. In response to Metro Transit’s budget shortfall, Larry called for a performance audit that identified over $200 million of savings or additional revenues that could be used to preserve service. He also called for the successful creation of the Regional Transit Task Force which made recommendations for improving Metro’s future.
Larry Co-Chairs and helped found Climate Communities, a national coalition of local governments which advocates for local government participation in federal efforts to address climate change. Larry and Climate Communities successfully lobbied the federal government for creation of and funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program which is improving energy efficiency in local communities across the nation. Larry sponsored King County’s Green Jobs Initiative and is bringing local and business leaders together to help King County’s economy recover from the Great Recession.