Rod Dembowski was voted in as the KCC Chair today, replacing Councilmember Joe McDermott.
He will take over the role as the presiding officer of the legislative branch. He's the first new chair since McDermott took over from Larry Phillips in 2016.
"I really view this role as a supportive role," Dembowski told The Stranger, "a servant leadership role to support the institution in getting our work done. There's no exceptional power or edicts and I don’t approach it in that way."
Dembowski, who felt awkward calling me to talk about his recent career trajectory, likes to keep his head down and do the work. He's been a council member since 2013, when he replaced Bob Ferguson.
Notably, Dembowski opposed the KCC decision to publicly fund
Safeco Field er, T-Mobile Park last year at the Mariners' behest. He was one of four council members who fought tooth and nail against the $135 million from the county's lodging tax that will go toward improvements to the stadium.
"The process went forward even when my views ended up being in the minority," Dembowski told The Stranger. "That’s okay, that’s the way it goes. A lot of us felt strongly about that money but it's important not to let those policy differences prevent you from taking on an the next issue that comes around."
King County Executive Dow Constantine championed the Safeco funding deal. He also supports the New Youth Jail. Dembowski, as we know, opposed the Safeco deal, he also opposes the jail. Dembowski didn't delve into those policy differences.
"We're very much aligned in general as pretty progressive-oriented policymakers," Dembowski said. "Dow does a very good job running our government… I really want to work in partnership with him as head of the legislative branch to make sure we achieve our shared vision."
Looking forward into this new chapter for the KCC, Dembowski wants to take a family-friendly focus to the legislative branch. He'd like to make paid leave and gender pay equity a theme. Additionally, he'd like to take a more intersectional approach.
"Given the changing nature of King County I want to lead through a racial equity lens in terms of a policy making and really apply that to understand its impacts on communities in King County," Dembowski said.
In the coming year, four KCC members are up for re-election: Claudia Balducci in District 6, Joe McDermott in District 8, Larry Gossett in District 2, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles in District 4.