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Lasting tribute for first King County Executive


Metropolitan King County
Council News

Lasting tribute for first King County Executive


King County Renames Administration Building after Gov. John Spellman


Members of the Metropolitan King County Council were joined by members of John Spellman’s family and County Executive Constantine at a ceremony formally renaming the King County Administration Building and the 4th Ave. block in honor of the former Governor and first King County Executive.

“Gov. Spellman worked to transform King County into a strong, open government by working with everyone regardless of political background,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, the prime sponsor of the legislation. “He led the way for our nonpartisan approach to governing and I am glad this dedication preserves a piece of his legacy.”

The location of the current King County Administration Building and the stretch of 4th Ave. between James St. and Jefferson St. in Downtown Seattle are now the John Spellman Block and Memorial Building.

“We are deeply honored by the unanimous support of the County Council to name the location of the King County Administrative Building after our father, John D. Spellman,” said Teresa Spellman Gamble, daughter of Gov. Spellman. “We are so proud of our dad’s many contributions to King County and the State, and we are truly appreciative of this recognition by the leadership of the County.”

“In renaming the King County Administration Building in honor of John Spellman, we recognize the incredible impact he has had on our region for generations,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “From his stewardship in the building of the Kingdome to modernizing our county government, John left a large footprint in King County, and we will forever be following in his footsteps.”

“Executive Spellman’s leadership, vision, and commitment to public service changed the course of King County’s history, positioning our region for the remarkable prosperity and quality of life we enjoy today,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We honor his lasting contribution with this permanent reminder of his life and work.”

John Dennis Spellman was born in 1926 in the City of Seattle. He attended high school at Seattle Preparatory School, then graduated from Seattle University after serving his country in World War II.

In 1966, Spellman was elected to the three-member King County Board of Commissioners. When county voters approved a plan to implement a home rule charter establishing the King County Council and the position of County Executive, Spellman was elected as King County’s very first Executive in 1969.

During the next 12 years, Executive Spellman led the transition of King County into one of the west coast’s strongest regional governments. Spellman consolidated previously independent departments, promoted racial equality, criminal justice reforms, land-use planning and farmlands preservation, and established a meritocracy within the County to ensure its abilities to serve the people. Spellman is also remembered for his significant efforts to enhance to Seattle area professional sports.

Following his 3-term service as Executive, Spellman was elected as the 18th Governor of Washington State in 1980. As Governor Spellman was known as a steadfast defender of our state’s prestigious federal lands, even blocking a proposal to run an oil pipeline under the waters of Puget Sound which would have heavily damaged our waterway’s ecology.

Gov. Spellman passed away on January 16, 2018, at age 91.
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