King County appoints new members to Sound Transit Board

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New appointments include Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien 

Three new members have joined the Sound Transit Board of Directors following the King County Council's approval of King County Executive Dow Constantine's nominations: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien. 

"These outstanding leaders will help Sound Transit expand its ridership and the reach of the regional transit system," said Constantine, who on Jan. 1 became chair of the Sound Transit Board. "They are well positioned to help lead the completion of voter-approved projects and explore how the system should further expand in the years ahead."

Murray was elected Seattle Mayor in November following years of leadership in the Washington State Legislature, including chairing the House Transportation Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee. Murray shepherded two major statewide transportation packages through the legislature and sponsored landmark legislation making Washington's car emission standards some of the toughest in the nation.

"I am very enthusiastic about my appointment to the Sound Transit Board," said Murray. "I look forward to working with my fellow Board members from around the region to help create a faster and more reliable commute for the tens of thousands of people using the system every day. I support the regional goal of maximizing transit trips and moving away from single-occupancy vehicles by expanding mass transit in Seattle and around the region."

In November 2013, Upthegrove was elected to the King County Council representing areas of South King County following the retirement of Julia Patterson.  Upthegrove was born and raised in South King County and as former member of the Washington State House of Representatives was a champion of transportation and environmental stewardship.

"I am enthused about the opportunity to serve the community I grew up in on the Sound Transit Board," Upthegrove said. "I look forward to working with the region's leaders on transportation to ensure transit services meet our residents' needs equitably and sustainably."

O'Brien, a transit advocate and former chair of the Sierra Club's Washington State chapter, was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2009. A longtime environmentalist and transit supporter, O'Brien also chairs the city's Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee and is vice chair of the Transportation Committee.

"As a transit rider and a councilmember, I am proud to join the Sound Transit Board and represent Seattle in the process. I first ran for office because of my interest in public transportation and its importance for our environment and our economy. We must continue to grow our regional transit network, and I look forward to engaging with the Board and the public to help shape a Sound Transit 3 package that will deliver the reliable, safe and modern transit system this region needs and deserves."

The King County Council also approved the reappointment of current Sound Transit Board members Constantine; King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer; Issaquah Mayor Fred Butler; and Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci.

In 1996 the voters of the Central Puget Sound Region formed Sound Transit to establish a regional transit system linking communities with light rail, commuter rail and express bus services, working closely with local transit agencies and in concert with land use plans. The Sound Transit District encompasses the urban areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, including more than 50 cities and more than 40 percent of the state's population.

Under state law, the 18-member Sound Transit Board of Directors includes 17 locally elected officials appointed from the ranks of the county and city councils within the district as well as the state's transportation secretary. The local members are nominated by their respective county executives and approved by their respective county councils. 

Each day, 100,000 riders in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties depend on Sound Transit trains and buses to reach their destinations. Third quarter 2013 ridership increased 10 percent from the same period last year.