County Executive Somers to head Puget Sound Regional Council

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s top elected leader now has some extra regional clout.

Executive Dave Somers last week was elected by his peers as president of the Puget Sound Regional Council. Somers’ ascension at the four-county planning agency comes on top of his role as chairman of Sound Transit’s Board of Directors.

“I think it’s very helpful to have Snohomish County’s perspective front and center,” Somers said. “What I would like to do is to look at our vulnerable points in our transportation network.”

Among other priorities, Somers wants to use his role at the regional council to help direct more state and federal money toward strengthening weak points on the freeways and highways, to make them better able to withstand an earthquake, flood or other natural disaster.

Somers is in his second year as county executive. He was elected chairman of the Sound Transit board in January. A former county councilman, he has long been involved in regional planning issues.

The Puget Sound Regional Council is a planning agency that pools together elected leaders from Snohomish, King, Pierce and Kitsap counties. It focuses on growth, transportation and economic development.

Somers was elected the group’s president unanimously Wednesday at the General Assembly, an annual meeting of elected leaders from the four counties and other local governments. The assembly selected his Pierce County counterpart, Executive Bruce Dammeier, as vice president.

“Things in the region tend to focus on Seattle and King County, just because they’re the largest players,” Somers said. “Both Snohomish and Pierce counties are smaller, but we’re growing rapidly.”

Leaders at the Puget Sound Regional Council are starting to work on a plan called Vision 2050 to anticipate how roads and other infrastructure needs to grow to handle the area’s expanding population.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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