Gary Nelson named County Council chief

Snohomish County council members Gary Nelson and John Koster swapped spots once again Monday as the council picked its chairman for 2005.

Nelson was made chairman by a unanimous vote, and Koster was the council’s unanimous pick for vice chairman. Both are Republicans.

Nelson had been vice chairman last year while Koster served as chairman for the five-member council.

“It was a very full year last year,” Koster said, noting that there is still plenty of work ahead for the council. That includes completing the 10-year update of the county’s growth plan, wrapping up the rewrite of rules that cover development near critical areas such as creeks and lakes, and completing the second phase of the new transfer of development rights program.

“I’ll have my plate full this year, not to mention everything else that we have to do,” Koster said.

It’s the third time in four years that Nelson has been made chairman. He also was elected to the post in 2002 and 2003.

This year’s switch in council leadership follows a familiar theme. In 2003 and 2002, Koster also served as vice chairman when Nelson took over as chairman.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a demanding year,” Nelson said.

Beyond numerous land-use issues, Nelson said pressing the county’s legislative agenda in Olympia is high on the council’s to-do list.

Other issues include deciding what mitigation should be sought from King County for building the Brightwater wastewater treatment plant in south Snohomish County, and assembling a list of changes that the county’s charter review commission should consider when that panel is seated later this year.

The council chairman presides over council meetings, sets the council’s legislative agenda and represents the county at various board and commission meetings. The chairman also receives a stipend, a salary increase of 10 percent.

Nelson represents Council District 3, which includes Edmonds, Lynnwood and Woodway. He was first elected to the council in 1994, and also served in the state Senate and House of Representatives for 22 years.

Reporter Brian Kelly: 425-339-3422 or kelly@

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