One day after being named the first director of a new King County department designed to exclusively serve residents of the unincorporated areas, John Taylor participated at a retreat for division leaders and outlined his vision for delivering outstanding local public services.
“There is currently no city hall for the residents of unincorporated King County, yet it’s in effect a city of 250,000 people,” he said. “Our goal is to give them that ‘city hall’ — a place they can get permits in a simple way, get their questions answered, and find out what other services are available to them.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Taylor on October 2 to lead the new King County Department of Local Services, saying “I want the Department of Local Services to start with a strong foundation that empowers our talented employees to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction, and that is the workplace culture John will promote.”
At the retreat, Executive Constantine encouraged the future department’s leaders to establish a workplace culture that empowers people to do the work that inspired them to choose the public sector in the first place, “because the best, most innovative ideas come from the people who do the work.”
Taylor currently serves as an assistant director of the Water and Land Resources Division of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. He coordinated a landmark agreement signed last year by Executive Constantine that will simultaneously restore salmon habitat, strengthen the region’s agricultural economy, and reduce flood risks in the Snoqualmie Valley. Taylor earned his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Vermont. His appointment is subject to confirmation by the King County Council.
Starting on January 1, the new Department of Local Services will consist of a Permitting Division for development permit review, code enforcement, and subarea planning; a Road Services Division responsible for 1,500 miles of roads and 182 bridges, and a Director’s Office, which will include the Community Service Areas program. The interim division directors for the new department – Jim Chan (Permitting) and Rick Brater (Roads) – were introduced at the retreat.
Executive Constantine also thanked Harold Taniguchi for leading the Local Services effort to date and helping secure Council approval to establish the new department. Taniguchi last week announced he will be leaving King County at the end of the year after 35 years of service, and 16 years as director of the County’s Department of Transportation.
“This has been an incredibly rewarding place to work and I appreciate the hard work and support of each of you,” Taniguchi told his staff last week. “Over the years, I’ve volunteered extensively in the world of nonprofits and whatever I next do, I’ll be acting on my passion – doing what I can to improve the lives of others.”
The framework for the new department is based on a study led by Senior Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett at Executive Constantine’s request to determine how to better deliver direct and contracted services in unincorporated King County, including transportation, public safety, clean water, and increased access to opportunity.