Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Everett City Council Member Mark Olson to lead Sound Transit Board

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The Sound Transit Board today unanimously elected Pierce County Executive John W. Ladenburg to succeed King County Executive Ron Sims as chair. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Everett City Council Member Mark Olson were unanimously elected as vice chairs.

"I'm honored to be selected the chair of Sound Transit for the next two years," said Ladenburg, who has served as the board's vice chair since 2001. "This will be a vital and exciting time for the region as we build light rail in the Seattle area and continue the planning for its extension to the University District and Northgate.

"We're also looking forward to expanding our Sounder commuter rail system to Everett, South Tacoma and Lakewood and continuing to improve our ST Express regional bus system, including building new transit centers and direct freeway access ramps for buses and carpools."

The 18-member Sound Transit Board, created by the 1996 Sound Move ballot measure, includes 17 local elected officials from throughout Sound Transit's service area in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties and the state Secretary of Transportation.

Ladenburg praised the leadership that outgoing Chair Ron Sims and Vice Chair Dave Earling have offered during the last two years. "The people of our congested region owe Ron Sims and Dave Earling a heartfelt thanks for their exemplary leadership and public service," Ladenburg said. "They have played key roles in getting Sound Transit back on track and moving forward on delivering the regional transportation system the voters mandated."

"Now that we've finally - finally! - broken ground on light rail, Sound Transit is building a critical piece of our 21st century transportation system and creating thousands of new jobs," said Nickels. "This is a huge project, and we're going to do it right for the people of Seattle and the entire region. One of my personal priorities is making sure the Rainier Valley is better off after construction than it was at the start of construction."

"The transportation system we're building is absolutely critical to our region's future," Olson said. "The people of our region put their faith in Sound Transit to address our serious transportation challenges. The Board's firm commitment is to continue building solutions. Particularly important to the people of Snohomish County is the launch of our Sounder commuter rail service between Everett and Seattle."

Ladenburg, Nickels and Olson will officially assume their positions on January 1, 2004. All three leaders bring extensive experience to their positions on the Sound Transit Board.

Ladenburg began his professional career in 1974 as a trial attorney and was elected Pierce County prosecuting attorney in 1986, serving 14 years. He served on the Tacoma City Council from 1982 through 1986, focusing on priorities including in protecting the environment and in establishing clean drinking water standards and serving as lead negotiator in the historic Puyallup Indian Tribe land settlement.

As prosecuting attorney, Ladenburg was recognized nationally for innovative programs against drug dealers and gang members. He also helped create Safe Streets of Pierce County and the "Three Strikes And You're Out" law.

With his election as County Executive in 2000, Ladenburg began a new era of cooperation in Pierce County, working hand-in-hand with towns, cities and businesses to address high-priority issues including transportation, public safety, salmon restoration, education, the environment and economic development.

Ladenburg is respected for his regional leadership. As vice president of the Puget Sound Regional Council, he is committed to effectively managing region-wide growth and transportation issues. He also helps lead the Tri-County Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Regional Access and Mobility Project.

The longest-serving member of the Sound Transit Board, Nickels is known for his years of work to improve the region's transportation system, including his key role in pushing for the light rail system that the region's voters approved in 1996 as part of the Sound Move transportation package.

Nickels began his career in public service at age 19 with the City of Seattle, later serving as legislative assistant to Seattle City Council Member Norm Rice. Nickels was elected to the King County Council in 1987, earning respect for his leadership on numerous County issues until his 2001 election as Seattle mayor. In his first year as mayor he earned a national reputation for innovative leadership in addressing public safety, economic opportunity and other challenges facing the City of Seattle.

An attorney specializing in general litigation, Olson is a lifelong resident of Everett who formerly served on the staffs of former U.S. Sen. Henry M. Jackson and 2nd District Rep. Lloyd Meads. Elected to the Everett City Council in 2001, he has focused on regional transportation issues and guiding the City in playing a more prominent role in the region.

Olson is chair of Snohomish County Tomorrow, a group of elected officials who are addressing growth management and regional issues, and represents the City and the Port of Everett on the Trade Development Alliance. He is a past member of the City of Everett Planning Commission and served on the city's Shoreline Advisory Committee, which led a path-breaking effort to update the city's shoreline policies.

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.