When Woodinville resident, Cheryl Swartz first joined Full Life Care as a volunteer with ElderFriends, she and her son visited an older man who was estranged from family – the pair brought fresh baked cookies on their visits, made friendly calls, and stopped by just to chat. After that first visit Cheryl was inspired to do more to bring joy and companionship to isolated elders throughout Seattle and King County.Read more ...
It has been nearly a year since King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed the establishment of a new Department of Local Services to better serve residents of unincorporated King County, and on January 1, 2019 the new department and its cabinet-level head, officially open shop.
Nevertheless, new Director John Taylor, currently the Assistant Director of the Water and Land Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources, is already making the rounds of meetings and sessions to outline his and the County’s vision of what the new department will be doing
Billed as a way for King County to be more responsive to the quarter-million residents who live in unincorporated areas, Taylor said the goal of the 11-member department is to provide services to residents who are not currently getting them.
“He will advocate in the executive’s cabinet for the residents of unincorporated areas,” according to County Council Representative Kathy Lambert. “He is talented and has excellent management skills and most importantly, will help greatly increase customer service.”
Among the services that will improve, according to both Lambert and Taylor, are permit review, code enforcement and subarea planning. Road repair and customer satisfaction are cited as high on the list for the new department, but most specific plans for how that will happen are still not firmed up. Other priorities for Taylor include making unincorporated areas economically sustainable. Both Lambert and Taylor emphasize that such sustainability includes a balance between preserving the environment and preserving agricultural lands. When Constantine proposed the new department, he also identified public safety, transportation, clean water and “access to opportunity” as within the scope of its services.
Taylor has said he envisions the new division as one that gives the unincorporated residents city hall type services with customer service and accountability. In official notices, the county listed priorities as improving coordination of local services through collaboration and as strengthening and expanding partnerships between communities and “other entities.”
Lambert is optimistic about the new department and its director, explaining that “This is the first time a specific department will be focused on the important role of the local government. If they (unincorporated residents) were a city, they would be the second largest city in the state.”
Plans for where the department offices will be located will be decided in the coming year. The council has required that Taylor and his staff conduct a study to investigate where the best place is and present the results of the study and the recommendations in June.
Taylor has resided in Seattle for the last 17 years and prior to that lived in rural Vermont.