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Council appoints four members of 2011 King County Districting Committee


Appointees to select a fifth member, begin process of redrawing Council districts


The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously appointed four members to the King County Districting Committee, the citizen committee responsible for redrawing Council districts based on 2010 Census data.

“The Council worked together to find committee members who have a deep knowledge of our local communities, an understanding of government and the political process, and an ability to work together on challenging issues,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett.

“Redistricting is a challenging, time-consuming process that is vital to ensuring our residents are fairly represented," said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “We are grateful that these four highly-qualified community members are willing to provide their service to King County.”

The Council appointed the following Districting Committee members:

Rod Dembowski is a partner at the Seattle-based law firm Foster Pepper. He has served as a special deputy prosecuting attorney for King, Pierce and Island Counties, and been named a “Rising Star” five times by Washington Law & Politics Magazine.

Born and raised in King County, Dembowski has a long history of public service and civic involvement. He has served as a policy analyst for King County Executive Gary Locke and as a staff assistant for the U.S. Senate. He has been a member of the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area Council, the King County Performance Measurement Oversight Committee, and the CityClub of Seattle Board of Governors.

John Jensen is the President of Jensen Roofing Company, a locally owned and operated business founded in 1988. He is a nationally recognized expert in tile roofing, and provides training and support to roofing and manufacturing companies across the country.

A member of the 2007-2008 King County Charter Review Commission, Jensen is an active civic and business leader in King County. He has served the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce as a long time board member and two time president. He is a member of the Valley Medical Center President’s Advisory Council, the Municipal League of King County, and Team Seattle (a Children’s Hospital fundraising guild).

Sally Nelson is a long-time civic leader in south King County. She helped lead the effort to incorporate the City of Burien, was elected as a charter member of the Burien City Council, was the city’s first Deputy Mayor, and later served two years as Mayor. She retired as a Burien elected official in 2009 after 16 years of service.

Nelson has been active on a wide variety of regional bodies and civic organizations, including the Suburban Cities Association, the Puget Sound Regional Council, and the Association of Washington Cities. She served as the Chair of the Public Safety and Crime Prevention Steering Committee for the National League of Cities. Before entering civic life, Nelson worked as a teacher, a counselor, and in real estate.

Sally Poliak serves as the CEO and President of The Poliak Group, a strategic communications and public affairs advocacy firm. She previously served as the COO of Nyhus Communications and spent 10 years at Microsoft in marketing and public affairs positions, including running the global Government Leaders Forum, a series of policy events for heads of state and ministers from around the world.

A member of the 1991 King County Districting Committee, Poliak has been an important voice in civic life for decades. She has served as a political analyst on Seattle National Public Radio affiliate KUOW and as a board member of the Northwest AIDS Foundation. She currently serves as the Chair of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, and on the boards of the Photographic Center Northwest and the Women’s Bioethics Project.

“The Council has carefully selected these appointees to ensure that there is geographic equity, a sound understanding of the political process, and a broad range of community and public service among members of the Districting Committee,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson.

“I am pleased that we have such a strong group of citizens engaged in many diverse civic activities who have volunteered for this duty,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “I appreciate the commitment they have made, and I look forward to working with this bipartisan panel to update our district boundaries based on the new Census data.”

“The Council unanimously supported appointing these four citizens to the Districting Committee because they have demonstrated civic engagement abilities and are committed to working for the broad interests of all the people of King County,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips.

“Some of the appointees I know well and have worked with for more than a decade, others I only know by reputation since their names came forward during this process,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “Regardless, each brings great experience and dedication to this task.”

State law and the King County Charter require King County to redraw Council district boundaries using the most recent U.S. Census data. The statutes require that the boundaries of each district correspond as nearly as practical with the boundaries of existing municipalities, election precincts, census tracts, recognized natural boundaries, and communities of related and mutual interest; be drawn to produce districts with compact and contiguous territory; be composed of economic and geographic units; and be as nearly equal in population as possible. Population data may not be used for purposes of favoring or disfavoring any racial group or political party.

The King County Charter places the authority for adopting a final districting plan with the citizen Districting Committee, not the County Council. Under the Charter, the four appointed Districting Committee members will select a fifth member to serve as chair. The Committee will then contract with a technical expert to serve as “districting master” and hold public meetings to gather community input. The Committee must complete their work and file the final districting plan by January 15, 2012.