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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 3, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 14
County Council member Larry Phillips to retire
Section One
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County Council member Larry Phillips to retire

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Veteran King County Council member Larry Phillips has announced he will not run for reelection this year.

'While I still possess the energy and desire to help our region meet the many challenges growth poses to our quality of life, and remain committed to preserving the values we hold close in this unique and beautiful home we share, I hope to do so in new ways,' he wrote in an April 1 email to constituents.

Phillips is the longest-serving current Council member, having been elected in 1991. He represents the Fourth Council district, including Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Fremont, Belltown, South Lake Union, and Downtown.

Phillips was chair of the County Council from 2004 to 2006, and was reelected chair in 2014. He is also on the Sound Transit board of directors.

Phillips was a long-time ally of the LGBT community, but the real hallmark of Phillips' career on the Council has been his work to preserve forests and farmland by buying land, development rights, or conservation easements.

'I will leave my service on the King County Council knowing the great landscapes of King County are far better preserved than when I started,' he noted in his April 1 email. 'Our air, waters, and natural resources are better protected, and the people living here enjoy a healthier environment and more prosperous community.'

Prior to his election to the King County Council, Phillips served two terms in the state legislature, where he was author and prime sponsor of the landmark Growth Management Act of 1990. He also passed a key measure to prevent oil spills in Puget Sound.

Phillips was named the 2001 Public Official of the Year by the Seattle Muni League for his leadership on land preservation and growth management in King County. He was also named 2010 Public Official of the Year by the 43rd District Democrats.

Phillips also had the unenviable job of County Council budget chair for three years during the County's budget crisis. Phillips led his colleagues in making more than $170 million in cuts to stabilize the budget while protecting public health, and human services.

Phillips had a role in Democrat Christine Gregoire's razor-thin victory over Republican Dino Rossi in the 2004 gubernatorial election. Phillips discovered that his absentee ballot had not been counted, and when he brought that fact to the attention of county election officials, they found another 572 uncounted ballots. The extra votes from heavily Democratic King County were enough to give Gregoire a 129 vote majority.

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