Snohomish County Executive News April 2018

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News from the County Executive

April 2018

State of the County: 

Working for the Future We Choose

Great things are happening in Snohomish County!

As you may know, I was a fisheries biologist before I ran for public office. One of my first and favorite jobs was working up at the Verlot Ranger Station, walking the back country mapping and assessing the streams and rivers that produce our salmon.

I could see evidence of our history of hard work, entrepreneurship, and creative energy across the county. I also saw the rich abundance that provides a sacred home for Native Americans. We are all very fortunate to live in a place with such history, abundance, and deep beauty, and we have an obligation to ensure the future is as prosperous and beautiful for generations to come.

How do we do that? Well we start by having the appropriate priorities. For me, those are: a safe and flourishing community, efficient and effective services, fiscal responsibility, a strong and resilient economy, transportation infrastructure, and planning for growth. We must always be looking forward, adapting to an ever-growing county. In each of these priority areas, we have made progress in the last year, from the partial activation of our emergency management system to address the opioid epidemic, to the speeding up of permit processing times, to the start of commercial air service at Paine Field. We are making significant progress on the issues that matter to our residents.

I remain extraordinarily proud of those who work on behalf of the residents of Snohomish County. It’s not just the hard work they do every day solving problems and delivering services, but also because of the generosity they exhibit toward those who need help. The participation of county employees in the annual March Against Hunger fundraising activities is a testament to how much they care about our community. This year we raised almost $50,000 for the Everett Food Bank. Families will be able to put food on their tables because they cared enough to participate. On behalf of our entire community, I thank them for their selfless efforts and generosity.

I’d like to make another important point. Snohomish County government is only as good as the people who do the work. In my almost two decades here, I have been impressed time and again with the selflessness and effort of our workforce. Throughout the county, there are people who have dedicated long careers to serving our residents, and we are starting to see a significant number of retirements. My office is no exception. Deputy County Executive Marcia Isenberg will be retiring in May after 41 years of public service, 16 of those here in Snohomish County. She has been a strong leader for the county and a valuable member of our leadership team. She will be sorely missed. Also on the cusp of retirement is Tom Rowe, after a 33 year career, most of that in PDS. Both Marcia and Tom would have succeeded anywhere, since they are smart and hard-working public servants. I am very grateful for their efforts and wish them well as they enter the next stage of their lives.

For all of you who, like me, are still on this side of retirement, we will continue to see changes to our workforce in the county. We will adapt to those changes, celebrate those who head into retirement, and continue to focus on our priorities for serving the public. My thanks go to all those who help us create the future we choose.

Paine Field terminal

In Other News

Fly Paine Field 

For decades, there has been vigorous and necessary debate about the prospect of commercial flights using Paine Field. Now that those debates are behind us, the terminal is starting to take shape (see photo above). We have finally begun to see the structure rise on Paine Field, and it’s exciting for those who want an easier trip out of town for vacation or depend on quicker access to flights for their business. The two gate terminal will support approximately 24 flights per day, pending FAA approval. Three airlines—Alaska, United and Southwest—have all made a commitment to fly out of Paine Field. Some of the announced destinations include Las Vegas, Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Denver with more announcements expected later this year. The terminal’s operator, Propeller Airports, Inc., is planning to launch service this fall. We are excited by the positive impact this will have on our economy, moving traffic off of the I-5 corridor, giving us a leg up in recruiting businesses, and otherwise strengthening Paine Field’s role as the leading economic engine of our region. 

Diversion Center

As part of our work to address the opioid epidemic, we have worked in partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, County Council, local service providers, state legislators and Governor Inslee to move our Diversion Center pilot project closer to reality. We are very grateful to Senator Palumbo and Reps. Hayes and Robinson for their support in leading our efforts in the legislature. The idea is relatively simple: replace high-cost incarceration with lower cost treatment and services. The Diversion Center will be located adjacent to the county jail and will allow us to co-locate treatment providers, housing assistance, job training and other key services right where people will be housed. We plan to have 44 beds for men and women. 

With this additional tool, we will once again be leading the region on this tragic crisis. We have too many of our neighbors and family members suffering with opioid addiction and mental health challenges. The Diversion Center will help us save law enforcement resources that are better spent going after violent criminals and drug dealers. 

Vision 2050

Earlier this year, I held a meeting with mayors and other elected officials to talk about the extraordinary growth predicted for Snohomish County over the next 30 years. Demographers have projected an additional 250,000 people will move to Snohomish County by 2050. That’s a lot of people, not to mention cars, housing, and other impacts of growth. Working with the Puget Sound Regional Council, we will have to make some tough decisions about how to handle development with our growing population, particularly at a time of limited resources.

Earlier this year, I invited elected officials from across the county to join me for a Vision 2050 Summit to start the conversation about how we plan for this expected growth. About 100 local elected officials and other leaders gathered to conduct very practical mapping exercises, jump-starting our conversations on planning for growth. I very much appreciate the partnership with Mayors Franklin and Tolbert, as well as many other local leaders. Our core need is to find ways to preserve the place we all love while also planning for additional people. The next few years will lay the groundwork for how we will grow.

Dave Sommers

Dave Somers
County Executive

3000 Rockefeller Ave. 

M/S 407 

Everett, WA 98201

PH: 425-388-3050

FAX: 425-388-3434

 Public Advocate

PH: 425-388-3365

dave somers