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Rod Dembowski hopes to make more friends in District 1
Rod Dembowski has been getting a little help from his friends - and making more along the way. He was appointed to the District 1 seat on the King County Council Feb. 11 and balancing the needs and advice of those friends, new and old, will be a big part of his new job.
District 1 represents Bothell, Kenmore and parts of north Kirkland, along with parts of North Seattle, Shoreline and Lake Forrest Park. One of those friends is Bob Ferguson, who vacated the seat after being elected as Washington state Attorney General in November.
"I talk to Bob several times a week," said Dembowski. "We are close friends and he has helped to smooth the transition. But his are big shoes to fill."
Dembowski took the oath of office on Feb. 4 from King County Superior Court Judge Sean O'Donnell, a friend and classmate of his at Georgetown University.
"We had one class together but there are not many kids from Washington at Georgetown and we have stayed in touch," said Dembowski, who was also joined by his two sons Evan and Camden at the ceremony. "It was a neat moment."
Dembowski still has some friends in King County government from when he served under Gary Locke from 1995-97 as an executive office policy analyst."We worked on a lot of issues that the county still faces," said Dembowski. "I guess the big advantage is that I know how the county works. It has allowed me to hit the ground running."
He also served as a special deputy prosecuting attorney for King, Pierce and Island counties and was a member of the 2011 King County Districting Committee. That committee shifted the north end of Kirkland from Jane Hague and District 6 to District 1.
Dembowski had to leave some friends behind on Feb. 11, quitting his position with Foster Pepper PLLC to take the position on the council. He worked for the law firm for 12 years.
"I really enjoyed being a lawyer," he said. "But serving the public made it the right decision. I want to help the county grow in an environmentally sound way."
But the councilman is also making new friends around the area. He met with north King County mayors on Tuesday.
"It is the way I get a regular update of the issues that those cities are facing," said Dembowski.
One of those mayors is Kenmore's David Baker, who also threw his hat in the ring for the council position back in December.
"He is terrific and is becoming a good friend," said Dembowski, who has attended many meetings with Baker during the past month. "He is a fierce advocate for Kenmore."
Dembowski's first meeting he attended after being named as councilman was the Feb. 11 Kenmore City Council meeting."I received a very warm welcome in Kenmore and Bothell," he said.
One of Dembowski's biggest concerns is transportation and he knows how important that is to Kenmore, Bothell and north Kirkland, with increased traffic on SR 522.
"The impacts on 522 from tolling are real," said Dembowski. "And that increased traffic has impacts on cities. The best thing we can do is be a voice for those cities. We need to make sure we have funds for transportation because that drives the economy.
"It is important for Kenmore's downtown and the Landing in Bothell. We need transportation-oriented development."
He added that 522 is not only important for Bothell, Kenmore and Kirkland but also the region.
"(The realignment in Bothell) will hopefully alleviate that choke point and integrate development with better transportation through the area," said Dembowski.
He is no stranger to Bothell, as he took part in the Fourth of July parade with Bob Ferguson, riding on a fire engine during the past few years. He plans to continue that tradition this year.
Dembowski said he plans to be an advocate for parks, such as Big Finn Hill Park, the Juanita Woodlands and Burke-Gilman trail.
But the biggest friends that Dembowski will have to make during the next eight months are District 1 voters, as he will have to run for election to keep the seat in November.