King County Local Services director moves to Department of Natural Resources and Parks

A new job just announced for the King County department director with whom unincorporated North Highline has dealt the most in recent years, John Taylor of Local Services. Here’s the announcement:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today appointed John Taylor as the new director for the Department of Natural Resource and Parks, selecting a proven leader to reinforce King County’s reputation as a trusted environmental steward and manage one of the largest metropolitan natural resource agencies in the country.

Taylor has served as the inaugural director for the King County Department of Local Services since 2018, when Executive Constantine established the agency to better serve the nearly 250,000 residents who live in unincorporated communities. He previously served as a member of the leadership team at the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, where he led a landmark accord signed by Executive Constantine that has restored salmon habitat, strengthened the local agricultural economy, and reduced flood risks.

“John brings the strengths and talent we need to build on King County’s reputation as a trusted environmental steward: Outstanding leadership skills, a lifelong commitment to protecting and restoring the natural environment, and the proven ability to produce lasting, measurable results for all living things that make King County home,” said Executive Constantine. “He will succeed as he has for five years as a highly effective member of my Cabinet, by upholding our values to create a more resilient, sustainable, equitable King County for this generation and for all those who will come after us.”

“I am grateful and excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead one of the nation’s premier natural resource agencies, one that has the talent and expertise needed to achieve ambitious goals,” said Taylor. “Executive Constantine has provided clear direction that he wants to build on the momentum King County has made in recent years to produce better results faster for people, salmon, and orcas, and that’s what we will accomplish with our employees and partners.”

Taylor will lead an agency that manages a large portfolio of services and initiatives that protect and restore the region’s natural environment, including climate action, land conservation, protecting water quality, restoring habitat, reducing waste, and promoting equitable access to parks and trails.

Taylor has already contributed to successes on several environmental initiatives created by Executive Constantine, including Clean Water Healthy Habitat by directing King County Road Services to help restore access to high-quality salmon habitat. He also helped create the framework for the Land Conservation Initiative, a partnership to protect the last, best 65,000 acres of open space within a single generation.

He will lead a workforce of 2,000 employees and manage the largest capital portfolio of any King County government agency. Executive Constantine recently toured the department’s new award-winning treatment station in Georgetown that was built to withstand climate impacts to better protect the Duwamish River and Puget Sound for the next century.

=The Wastewater Treatment Division is building and modernizing infrastructure that can withstand climate impacts to continue protecting Puget Sound for the next century

=The Water and Land Resources Division is restoring habitat and reducing flood risks throughout King County

-The Solid Waste Division is designing and building new recycling and transfer stations in the south and northeast areas of King County

-King County Parks is enhancing parks and trails throughout the region, promoting equitable access to places where communities connect

The Department of Natural Resources and Parks is contributing to King County Climate Office initiatives to prepare the region for increased risks to wildfire, extreme heat, and flooding

-The Department of Natural Resources and Parks leads Executive Constantine’s Local Food Initiative, making access to healthy, homegrown food more equitable

Taylor’s previous role at the department was deputy director for the Water and Land Resources Division, which has completed major restoration projects over the past several years. Recent successes include transforming dilapidated buildings along the Duwamish River into healthy habitat and much-needed greenspace for the nearby community, and simultaneously improving habitat and reducing flood risks along the Cedar River and Green River.

Taylor’s leadership team will implement Re+, the initiative Executive Constantine launched a year ago to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing waste and transitioning to a sustainable, circular economy. The department will also contribute to the King County Climate Office’s initiatives to better prepare communities for increased flood risks, extreme heat, and wildfire risks.

King County Parks – one of the department’s four divisions – will continue to expand and enhance its facilities and programs under Taylor’s leadership. In addition to making parks safer, more accessible, and more inclusive, the agency recently completed King County’s contribution to a 44-mile trail corridor that connects Golden Gardens Park in Ballard to Eastside cities and the Cascade foothills. This summer, King County Parks will complete a 500-foot-long trail bridge that connects Eastrail to Sound Transit’s Wilburton Station in Bellevue.

Taylor succeeded on multiple fronts as the first director for the Department of Local Services, producing measurable results that advance King County’s commitment to equity and racial justice.

He is credited with establishing the highly successful participatory budget process that creates opportunities for residents to decide how public funds are invested in their communities His leadership team also established the Community Needs List Program that gives residents in unincorporated areas a voice in King County’s budget process.

He has 20 years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, contributing to Vermont’s first Smart Growth legislation, Seattle’s Restore Our Waters Initiative, and establishing the Puget Sound Partnership. He previously served as a strategic advisor to the director of Seattle Public Utilities, legislative analyst for the Seattle City Council, and senior policy advisor to the governor of Vermont.

Taylor will begin serving as director of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks on Feb. 12. He will replace Christie True, who is retiring after a 39-year career at the agency, including 13 years as department director. Mo McBroom will continue to serve as the department’s deputy director, strengthening partnerships to produce results for climate action, equity and racial justice, land conservation, and resource recovery.

Taylor’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the King County Council. The Executive Office will begin recruiting for a new director for the Department of Local Services.

We’ll be following up for more on that search and who will run Local Services in the meantime.

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