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King County is a Welcoming Community

In August 2015, King County joined over 60 local governments around the nation to become a Welcoming Community that embraces new residents and recognizes that emigration of people to King County from many parts of the world makes us a stronger, more prosperous region.

"Immigrants and refugees bring innovation and new ideas that spark economic growth – and contribute to the rich cultural diversity that makes King County such an interesting place to live.  But we still have some work to do to ensure that new residents are successfully integrated as engaged, thriving members of our community." - King County Executive, Dow Constantine

Immigrant and Refugee Task Force

King County adopted an ordinance in 2015 establishing a task force to develop a set of recommendations on how to ensure that immigrant and refugee residents have fair and equitable access to County services and a clear voice in County government.  Task force members were selected as leaders with insight into the challenges, priorities and assets within immigrant and refugee communities and, in some cases, who have direct experience with emigrating to King County from other countries.  The task force will develop recommendations for creating a permanent Immigrant and Refugee Commission and will actively solicit community comments through open public forums and electronic communication.  View the list of task force members and their ongoing activities.

Voting Rights

In July 2015, fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Federal Voting Rights Act, the King County Council unanimously approved broadening the law’s standards by requiring that voting materials be translated into additional languages, starting with Spanish and Korean. The Voting Rights Act requires that jurisdictions provide language assistance to voters if more than 10,000 members or 5 percent of the voting age citizens are members of a single-language group who do not “speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process.” The County’s new legislation adds Spanish and Korean to the list of languages that will be translated for the 2016 general election; Chinese and Vietnamese are already on this list.  Other languages may be added starting in 2017.

Declaring Support for Refugees

King County Executive Dow Constantine rallied metropolitan regions across the country to welcome Syrian refugees by signing a declaration on November 24, 2015 that "encourages federal leaders to act responsibly and consistently with basic American values, and to avoid actions that would betray our nation’s principles and put our country at greater risk.”  The declaration emphasizes that the flow of migrants from Syria is, above all else, a humanitarian crisis that King County – and other major urban counties in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southwest – is willing and able to respond to.  It is expected that between 100 and 200 Syrian refugees will arrive in Washington State in 2016, with roughly two-thirds likely to live in King County. Approximately 40 percent of newly arrived refugees are younger than 18 years old. 

Best Starts for Kids

King County Executive Dow Constantine has announced an initiative - called Best Starts for Kids - that will provide the resources needed to prevent negative outcomes in the community and put every child on a path toward lifelong success. 

Justice system

In March 2015, King County issued an Interim Report as part of the Race and Social Justice Assessment and Action Plan to reduce racial disproportionality in the juvenile justice system.  Read the report

Health enrollment

King County Executive Dow Constantine has set the ambitious goal of full enrollment in affordable healthcare for all eligible King County residents. Learn more.

Transit Strategic Plan

The Transit Strategic Plan enables Metro to carry more riders for each hour of service, and will help support the region’s job growth and economic recovery. Read the plan…

Tools and Resources

South Park bridge outreach

Closing the South Park Bridge in order to rebuild a safe bridge has been a multilingual, community-wide outreach effort culminating in a celebration. Learn more about engagement efforts from King County.

Team

Small contractors and suppliers

See reform efforts in action as King County makes it easier for small contractors and suppliers to do business with King County.

2014 ESJ Commitments from Departments, Agencies and Offices

Below are some successful case studies from how King County staff used an equity and social justice lens to help formulate policy, procedures and communications in our community.

Browse reports: