The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday gave its unanimous approval to the appointment of John Taylor to lead the newly formed Department of Local Services that is set to begin operations at the beginning of the year. Taylor, appointed by County Executive Dow Constantine in October, now formally serves as the director of the department that will better coordinate and deliver direct services to the nearly 250,000 people who live in unincorporated King County.
“John has worked in the unincorporated area and has already established wonderful working relationships with the citizens he will be serving in this new role,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who co-sponsored the appointment. “I am excited that John will be taking on this new vitally important position, and I am confident in his ability to listen and respond to the unique needs of unincorporated residents around the County. I look forward to the formalization of this role, having a Director in the Executive’s Cabinet and making local government more visible and transparent at the Executive level. King County is both a regional and local government. This is our opportunity to also work to make King County the best run local government.”
“I am pleased to support John Taylor’s appointment as the first Director of the Department of Local Services,” Council Chair Joe McDermott said. “His experience and expertise will serve him well as the new department strives to better serve our unincorporated areas.”
“As someone who represents a large portion of unincorporated King County, I am pleased to see the County emphasize the needs of those who choose to live in unincorporated King County,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “By consolidating these services under one department, we are providing a more user-friendly and efficient government for some of our often underrepresented areas; I look forward to working with John to better serve my constituents in unincorporated King County.”
“As a former Mayor I know that job number one for local government is to provide basic services to its residents,” Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci said. “King County is embarking on an effort to centralize and improve services to the nearly 250,000 residents that call urban and rural unincorporated King County home. John knows how diverse unincorporated King County is and his experience across the county makes him the right pick to lead this important new department.”
King County is the regional government for 2.2 million residents, offering services such as transit, public health, roads, permitting, public safety, emergency management, and wastewater treatment. For the nearly 250,000 people who live in urban and rural unincorporated communities, the county is the de facto city government.
“Executive Constantine wants to make sure that everyone who lives in unincorporated King County has their own version of a city hall, a hub that coordinates services that improve their quality of life,” Taylor said. “Having a new department dedicated to unincorporated communities will make it easier for us to deliver direct services that would be unmatched in any city.
As Local Services Director, Taylor will also oversee a department of nearly 500 people that will consist of a Permitting Division for development permit review, code enforcement, and subarea planning; a Road Services Division responsible for the 1,500 miles of roads and 182 bridges in the County, and a Director’s Office, which will include the Community Service Areas Program that coordinates directly with unincorporated area residents and groups.
“I’m deeply honored to lead this new agency and am grateful to the Council, the County Executive, and the transition team for the trust they have emplaced in me,” said Taylor. “My hope is that Local Services’ role in unincorporated communities becomes essential for connecting residents with opportunities and services. We are focused on meeting the diverse and unique challenges of residents and also preparing a foundation for expanding our services to meet the needs of unincorporated area residents for years to come.”
Taylor previously served as an assistant division director at the King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks. He was instrumental in coordinating 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. Before his work with the County, he was the Government Relations Manager with CleanScapes, Inc., a company that addressed the solid waste management needs of local municipalities. He earned his master’s degree in public administration at the University of Vermont.
The framework for the new department is based on a study that Senior Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett conducted 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.
To learn more, go to https://kingcounty.gov/depts/local-services.aspx.