Liias hired to help spread word on county recovery efforts

The lawmaker will guide communications for the new Office of Recovery. He isn’t leaving the state Senate.

Marko Liias

Marko Liias

EVERETT — State Sen. Marko Liias has been tapped by Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers to serve as communications manager for the county’s new Office of Recovery and Resilience.

The hiring, announced Thursday, will make Liias responsible for helping oversee communications with the public and the media regarding Snohomish County’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We look forward to having Marko Liias join our Office of Recovery and Resilience team and help bring a speedy and equitable recovery for all of our residents,” Somers said in a statement. “Marko brings a wealth of experience with communications and public outreach, two skills that will be critical to the success of our recovery work.”

Liias will start his new job Monday. Its $83,186 annual salary will be covered by federal dollars received through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA.

Meanwhile, the Lynnwood Democrat will continue serving in the Legislature, where he earns $56,881 a year and is the Senate majority floor leader. During the upcoming 60-day legislative session, Liias will take leave without pay from the county job.

This is not Liias’ first foray into working for local government.

In 2014 he landed a job with the city of Mukilteo as a policy analyst. He worked in the administration of Mayor Jennifer Gregerson, a friend and longtime Democratic ally. His hiring inflamed the passions of a few residents and some members of the City Council, who eventually asked the mayor to get him to resign. In 2017, the council eliminated the position — thus putting Liias out of work.

This time should be different. While Somers is a Democrat, Liias will answer to Michael Fong, hired last month as director of the Office of Recovery and Resilience. His duties will include drafting speeches, writing reports and helping develop a social media presence for the recovery-related programs which will be administered through the office.

“As a part-time citizen legislator, I was attracted to this opportunity because it will allow me to use my policy and public engagement skills to help the communities I’ve grown up in,” Liias said in a statement. “We have the opportunity to make lasting investments that leverage federal recovery funds to take transformational steps forward and build a sronger, more resilient county.”

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; 360-352-8623

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