King County elected officials
NOTE: The Archives in the process of updating the Elected Officials database. This database was last updated in April 2016.
Search the names, offices or years of most elected officials who have served King County and its residents since the county was created in 1852.
Before the Territory of Washington was created, King County was attached to Pierce County for judicial purposes. The Oregon Territory (and later Washington Territory) was divided into three judicial districts. Seattle was usually headquarters for the Third District.
The District Judge had jurisdiction in territorial and federal matters. There were very few resident lawyers; instead they mostly passed from county to county with the court.
The office of County Assessor was created by the Territorial Assembly in 1854. The Assessor's duties include the listing of a valuation on personal and real property for taxation purposes and the transmitting of the tax rolls to the Treasurer after review by the Board of Equalization. The office of Assessor remained elective after the adoption of the King County Charter in 1969, and the administrative agency headed by the Assessor was named the Dept. of Assessments.
The office of County Auditor was established as an elective office in 1854 and existed in King county until 1969. The Auditor's duties included preserving public records, supervising elections and voter registration, and keeping the records of the County Commissioners. Most of the duties of the County Auditor were assumed by the Department of Executive Administration, Records and Elections Division under the 1969 King County Charter.
In 1866, the office of Bridge Commissioner was created, and T.M. Alvord was named as Bridge Commissioner for the White River Precinct, and E.M. Smithers for the Black River Precinct.
The County Commissioners served as the main legislative and executive body of county government from 1853 until the County Charter became effective in May 1969. For most of the county's history the Commissioners were elected from three districts. The duties of the Commissioners included the maintenance of a courthouse and jail, the construction and maintenance of roads, and fiscal responsibilities such as setting tax rates and paying bills. Powers included licensing saloons and other businesses, enacting police and sanitary regulations, and increasing or decreasing county debt. The County Auditor kept the official records of the Commissioners.
The elective office of County Coroner was established in Oregon Territory in 1853 and existed in King County from 1854 until the county Charter became effective in 1969. The Coroner's duties included conducting investigations of deaths which may have been caused by other persons, including murder or manslaughter, suicide or accidents.
The County Council is the legislative branch of King County government. The Council is the policy determining body of the County and has all legislative powers described in the County Charter. Among the powers and duties, the County Council adopts and enacts laws, levies taxes, appropriates revenues, and adopts budgets for the County. The council reviews, adjusts, and adopts by ordinance comprehensive plans including improvement plans for the present and future development of the county. In 1969 the King County Council consisted of nine members. In 1992, King County voters approved the merger of METRO and King County government. The merger agreement set the number of councilmembers at thirteen with the idea that the four additional seats would give suburban communities an equal voice on the council.
Before the Washington Territory was created, the Oregon Legislature of 1852-53 authorized the judge of the District Court of Pierce County (to which King County was attached for judicial purposes), to appoint a clerk for the District Court of King County.
From 1969 to 2009 the King County elections director was appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the Metropolitan County Council. On November 4, 2008 voters approved Charter Amendment 1, choosing to make the position of Elections Director an elected office. The first director was chosen by a special election on February 3, 2009. Responsibilities of the elections director include administering elections a year, managing the voter rolls, filing candidates for office, verifying initiatives and petitions, and managing division budget and personnel.
The elective office of County Engineer was established in 1907, and took over the duties of the Surveyor. Required to be a licensed civil engineer, the Engineer was mandated to recommend improvements to the Commissioners, to prepare plans, estimates and specifications, and to inspect bridges annually. The position was abolished by Laws passed in 1937 stating that no engineers should be elected after 1938. The position of Road Engineer was created, appointed by County Commissioners.
The County Executive is an elective office that began functioning when King County's Home Rule Charter went into effect in May 1969. The powers and duties as described in the Charter have not changed since that time. The County Executive has supervisory power over all administrative offices and departments, and is responsible for the county's budget and comprehensive plans, has the power to veto any county ordinance except as otherwise provided in the charter, and is the legal signatory for all deeds, contracts and other instruments.
First mention of an official County Physician comes with the naming of T.T. Minor in 1873; no evidence elected or appointed, most likely appointed.
The judicial powers for the Oregon (and later, Washington) territories were vested in a supreme court, district courts, probate courts and justices of the peace. King County, Washington Territory, got its first Probate Judge upon the creation of Washington Territory in 1853, with that position replacing the probate judge that had been in place when we were part of the Oregon Territories.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney represents the interests of the people of King County and the State of Washington in the prosecution of criminal matters. The Attorney also provides advocacy services for victims of crimes, renders legal counsel to County elected and appointed officials, represents and defends the County in civil proceedings, and represents the interests of both the State and children by establishing and enforcing child support issues.
The office of Sheriff was created in 1852 and continued as an elected position until the adoption of the King County Charter in 1969. At that time the name of the office was changed to Director of the Department of Public Safety. In the mid 90's the title of Sheriff was reinstated and today remains an elected office.
The office of Superintendent of Schools was established and its duties delineated by the Territorial, and later, the State Constitution. The first Superintendent of Common Schools was appointed in 1853, thereafter it was an elected position. In the 1970's the districts were reorganized in 9 regional districts.
The Superior Court Clerk's Office serves as the record keeper and a customer service provider for the King County Superior Court. It is responsible for maintaining and managing access to the official superior court case records, dating back to 1854. Case records are, with some exceptions, public records and available for general viewing. The only records that are not subject to public inspection are those sealed by court order, protected by court rule or by law. The Clerk’s Office also manages receipt, disbursement and accounting of all fees, fines and payments made in superior court cases.
The office of the King County Superior Court Judge was first established in 1889 with the creation of Washington State. This office replaced the office of Territorial Judge that existed from 1854-1889. The Superior Court Judge is responsible for the following civil matters: cases involving more than $300 and unlawful detainer and injunctions, felony criminal cases, family law, including dissolutions, child support, adoptions, parentage, and domestic-violence protection matters, and guardianship matters, juvenile offender cases, juvenile dependencies; including abused and neglected children, children in need of services, at-risk youth, and truancies, and mental illness and involuntary commitment matters.
1855-1907. Original title of Engineer.
The office of County Treasurer was established by the Territorial Assembly in 1854 and existed until the County Charter became effective in 1969. The Treasurer's duties included collecting all county revenue fro taxation and other sources and paying all county bills.
The office of Wreckmaster was created by the Oregon Legislature in 1854 for the purpose of caring for wrecks in the harbors, locating owners, clearing away wreckage, and salvaging unclaimed wrecks.