January 20, 2023
King County Councilmember Joe McDermott is announcing that he will not seek reelection in 2023. McDermott, who joined the King County Council in 2010, will stay on the council through the end of his current term. He previously served in both the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives.
McDermott represents King County’s 8th District, which includes West Seattle, First Hill, Capitol Hill, Downtown Seattle, Chinatown International District, Little Saigon, Pioneer Square, SODO, White Center, Georgetown, South Park, Tukwila, Burien, and Vashon & Maury Island. He is releasing the following statement (letter attached):
After more than 22 years in public office, I will not be running for re-election this fall. I remain humbled and honored by the trust granted to me by the people I’ve represented in the Washington State House of Representatives, State Senate, and for over twelve years now on the King County Council. To be able to serve the community I’ve called home my entire life has been a true joy and remains a deep responsibility I take seriously every day. Thank you, truly, to all my neighbors, from West Seattle to First Hill, Capitol Hill, Downtown Seattle, Chinatown International District, Little Saigon, Pioneer Square, SODO, White Center, Georgetown, South Park, Tukwila, Burien, and Vashon & Maury Island for this opportunity.
I will continue to work diligently for the people of the 8th County Council District and King County though the end of my tenure. I look forward to pursuing other professional opportunities yet to be identified once I leave office while always remaining involved in the issues I am passionate about.
Some of the legislative accomplishments I achieved of which I am most proud include:
When I joined the state Legislature in 2001 it was the first time there was more than one openly gay legislator serving in the Legislature. Ten years later I was the first openly LGBTQ+ member to serve on the King County Council. Over my time in the Legislature, I am proud to have contributed to passing the Civil Rights Bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity to our state’s anti-discrimination statutes, Domestic Partnerships creating recognition for same sex couples that led to Marriage Equality, and added protection for transgender persons to the Washington’s hate crimes statute.
As a Councilmember, I created and passed the King County Gun Safety Action Plan, a package of legislation addressing elements from safe storage to confiscated weapons. The safe storage requirement was in response to a Washington state study that found 21 percent of residents report having a gun in or around their home, and of those owners almost half reported these guns were stored unlocked. Unlocked firearms contribute to the public health crisis of gun violence, so safe storage improves safety. I continue to provide recognized leadership on responsible firearm policy.
As Chair of the King County Board of Health, I established the first producer-paid Secure Medicine Return program in Washington state and second in the nation to address the opiate crisis and safely dispose of unused medicines throughout King County. The program provided 198 drop boxes across the county and destroyed over 115 tons of drugs in the five years before a statewide program took effect.
Responding to a fireworks related death in my district, I collaborated with communities and built a coalition to support and together we passed legislation to ban the sale and discharge of commercial fireworks in unincorporated King County.
As Budget & Fiscal Management Committee Chair, I secured unanimous passage of King County Biennial Budgets. As Chair I also led independent review and approval of King County’s public participation in SODO arena proposal for NBA basketball and NHL hockey.
I sponsored the original and 2021 renewal of Executive Dow Constantine’s Best Starts for Kids Levy in King County to make strategic early investments in the lives of young people to produce better long-term outcomes. To date, Best Starts for Kids has served more than half a million King County children, youth, young adults, and families in partnership with more than five hundred community-based organizations, ensuring a growing return on investment for years to come.
I championed Council approval of the Health through Housing proposal to house 1,600 of the most challenged people experiencing homelessness in King County.
Together the King County Board of Health undertook a challenging equity and social justice discussion regarding disproportional enforcement of bike helmet laws.
I sponsored and led the Council compromise on long range hotel motel tax revenue allocation making significant investments in affordable housing and public infrastructure.
As a Sound Transit Boardmember, I fought for inclusion of light rail service to West Seattle in the 2016 Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, campaigned for successful passage of ST3, and continue to pursue station design and locations and alignments that meet the immediate and long-term needs of the West Seattle to Ballard alignment. I also ensured greater equity in Fare Enforcement for Sound Transit riders.
As Chair of the King County Water Taxi District, I promoted current service and oversaw a new Passenger Only terminal at Coleman Dock and the building of two new water taxis.
Again, I am grateful for the opportunity to work for our communities. I look forward to continuing doing so as a private citizen.