Drewel calls his new job a dream

Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel will take over as the new executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council, a four-county planning agency that tackles transportation, growth and other issues.

The agency’s executive board unanimously voted to hire Drewel Thursday at the group’s meeting in Seattle. He will be paid $160,000 a year.

Drewel will replace outgoing executive director Mary McCumber, who is retiring. McCumber has been director of the council since it was formed in 1991.

The regional council coordinates growth and transportation planning in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

The agency has a staff of about 50 and a biennial budget of roughly $17 million. The council controls the annual distribution of about $100 million in federal highway and transit funds, and also supports the region’s Economic Development District.

"It is a wonderful opportunity. It’s just a splendid, splendid thing," Drewel said.

He recalled a recent conversation with Navy Capt. Dan Squires, commander of Naval Station Everett, when the two talked about "dream sheets." Sailors put the places where they would most like to serve on such wish lists.

Drewel said his new job would be on his.

"If you filled out a dream sheet, this job would be at the top," he said.

Drewel has been Snohomish County executive for 12 years. He could not seek re-election last month because of term limits in the county charter.

Leaders across the state praised the regional council’s decision.

"Bob Drewel will be a fantastic executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council," U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement after Drewel was hired.

"He is a patient, effective and determined leader who brings people together to get the job done," Murray said.

"His experience in transportation and economic development make him the perfect person to lead such an important regional agency. I look forward to continuing to work with Bob to help make progress for the people who live and work in the Puget Sound."

Drewel will start work at the regional council in January.

He said he was looking forward to working with the agency’s staff, a group he called remarkable. But Drewel quickly added that he had been blessed to have an impressive staff serve him as county executive.

"No one person does something like this. It’s just been a remarkable team effort in Snohomish County," Drewel said.

Drewel was president of Everett Community College before he took over as county executive. He lives in Arlington with his wife, Cheryl. The couple have two grown daughters.

Reporter Brian Kelly: 425-339-3422 or kelly@heraldnet.com.

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