2015 was a year of significant accomplishment on behalf of the people of King County. Here are the top 15.
Best Starts for Kids is a six-year initiative proposed by Executive Constantine. It is the most comprehensive approach to childhood development in the nation, investing in prevention and early intervention so that more children and youth in King County reach adulthood healthy and ready to succeed. Read more.
Best Starts for Kids approved
To help confront the region's growing inequity, King County created the ORCA LIFT reduced fare program for low-income bus riders. By helping residents get to higher-paying jobs, educational opportunities, and more, ORCA LIFT expands access to opportunity throughout the region. Read the New York Times' coverage.
ORCA LIFT reduced bus fare
Sound Transit made major strides in 2015 toward completing 34 miles of light rail extensions. Service to Capitol Hill and the UW will open in March, under budget and ahead of schedule. Voters can approve Sound Transit 3 this November, extending light rail to Ballard, West Seattle, Redmond, Tacoma, and Everett. Watch video.
Transit expansion on the horizon
Executive Constantine signed legislation to enact "Building for Culture," the largest one-time investment King County has made to build new cultural facilities, as well as expand, preserve, and improve existing ones. More than 100 arts and cultural organizations will share $28 million in capital improvement grants. Read more.
Arts and culture grants
More than 700 units of workforce housing would be created in mixed-use, mixed-income communities built around transit centers under a plan announced by Executive Constantine, who also serves as Sound Transit Board Chair. The Transit-Oriented Developments would include housing, shopping, schools, and job centers. Read more.
King County signed into law one of the most ambitious climate action plans in the United States. It provides a roadmap for the region to reduce carbon pollution, increase transit, protect open spaces, improve recycling options, and prepare for climate change impacts. Read more.
Strategic Climate Action Plan
King County is now one of about a dozen governments across the country to offer up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Executive Constantine proposed the program so that employees have more opportunity to connect with their newborn children, and to help recruit and retain talented workers. Read more.
Paid parental leave for staff
A deal between King County and the Washington State Convention Center secured a critical parcel needed to construct the new center's Addition. The agreement also secured an ongoing revenue stream to support King County Metro Transit service for the next 30 years. Read more.
Convention Center expansion
Now in its fifth year of operation, Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) is saving the lives of nearly nine out of every 10 animals that come into care. This is one of the nation's highest pet-save rates, and exceeds the goal set by Executive Constantine as part of his 2010 animal care and control reform plan. Read more.
Record pet-save rate
While King County is one of the most prosperous counties in the state and the nation, it also shares some of the greatest disparities. Executive Constantine addressed the region's growing inequity and introduced Best Starts for Kids at a special meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council. Watch video.
State of the County address
The number of youth in juvenile detention has dropped from a peak of 205 in 1999 to a low of 45 last year, but racial disparity is growing. King County leaders announced new actions to end racial disproportionality, decriminalize homelessness and mental illness, and partner with schools and communities. Read more.
Racial disparities in juvenile justice
King County is the largest government in the nation to pilot the same energy-tracking system Microsoft uses to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions at many of its buildings. Maintenance workers can now spend less time identifying the cause of a heating or air-conditioning problem and more time fixing it. Read more.
Real-time energy-tracking system
King County helped about 800 local homeless veterans find safe, affordable housing in 2015, and is continuing to help the remaining 300 transition out of homelessness. It's part of the Operation: WelcomeOneHome campaign that was launched by King County to support the region's homeless veterans. Read more.
Helping homeless veterans
King County has been named one of the nation's "Top 10 Digital Counties" in 10 of the past 11 years by the Center for Digital Government. From our award-winning cloud backup strategy to the fiber optic networks we supply local schools, technology plays a fundamental role in our work to build the best-run government in America. Read more.
King County’s partnership with Seattle to fuel smart growth and save farmland wins a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the state. In only two years, King County has sold $2 million worth of development rights and protected 12 farms totaling 900 acres. It's an examples of successful planning under the Growth Management Act. Read more.
Protecting local farmland
*Click the photos or links above to read more about King County's 2015 accomplishments.
From the Executive:
Meaningful accomplishments in government require years of persistent, determined effort.
In 2015, the work we've done to build partnerships, conduct research, marshal resources, and measure performance resulted in some of my administration's greatest achievements to date.
I am especially proud of Best Starts for Kids, an initiative I proposed to invest earlier in our community's youngest residents. We brought together researchers, service providers, educators, policy experts, and community leaders to create a performance-driven, prevention-oriented approach—and voters approved a six-year levy to fund it.
Several of our accomplishments place King County at the forefront of national movements, including income inequality, climate change, and paid parental leave. We again embraced emerging technologies to make our operations more efficient and bring us closer to our goal of being the nation's best-run government.
As Sound Transit continued to deliver light rail projects under budget and ahead of schedule, I accepted re-election as Chair of the agency's Board. The work we have invested in regional mobility sets the stage for a major breakthrough this spring when University Link opens for business.
I look forward to what we will achieve together next year to ensure King County remains one of the most vibrant, prosperous regions in the United States.
King County Executive