King County Spotlight
The most populous county in the state, King County was established in 1852 as a logging community. Now home to the state’s most active economy, King County hosts a variety of industries, namely professional and business services, government, health services, leisure, hospitality, manufacturing, and education. Seattle, the county’s largest city and its seat, is the center of most of King County’s commerce and attracts a wide variety of residents. Seattle is home to some of the state’s most recognizable landmarks, including the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, attracting both in-state and international visitors year round. Seattle also boasts a diverse culture and an active arts scene, drawing tourists to festivals such as Comic-Con, the Cherry Blossom Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, and Northwest Folklife, to name a few.
King County is home to some of the state’s most successful businesses, including Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing. Well known for its information technology industry, King County has attracted other tech businesses to the area, including Google, whose offices are located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. The flourishing tech industry has resulted in an influx of young people to the area, contributing to a diverse and vibrant city culture. King County is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the state, a fact which its namesake reflects: in 2005, the Washington State Legislature passed a measure to adopt Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the county namesake, which is now represented on the county logo.
In response to a series of government agency scandals in the 1960s, King County interest groups lobbied the county commissioners for the adoption of a “Home Rule” Charter. Placed on the 1968 ballot, the Home Rule charter was approved and then implemented in 1969. Because of King County’s position as a cultural, political, economic, and social leader of the state, the King County Charter has gone through multiple revision processes, reflecting changes in the region’s social and political culture over the years. While the structures by which the charter acts has changed with time, its key purposes remain the same: determining the county’s checks and balances, keeping the county accountable, and to ensure government efficiency and responsiveness.