The Counties of Washington State

The Washington State Association of Counties was founded in 1906 to assist counties in legislative efforts at the state legislature, advocating for counties always with resources for communications, county administration, and more.

While voting within the organization is limited to county commissioners, council members and county executives, the Association also serves as an umbrella organization for affiliate organizations representing county road engineers, local public health officials, county administrators, emergency managers, county human service administrators, clerks of county boards, and others. In addition, we work closely with our sister organization, the Washington Association of County Officials (WACO), which serves independently elected non-judicial county officials including auditors, treasurers, prosecutors, coroners, clerks, and sheriffs.

Executive Committee 2018-19


Scott Hutsell

Lincoln County


First Vice President

Robert Gelder

Kitsap County

Second Vice President

Michael Largent

Whitman County

Immediate Past President

Stephanie Wright

Snohomish County

Board of Directors


To help further the goals and needs of counties WSAC works with many different county associations across the state, of which, serve at all levels of county government. WSAC assists in trainings, conferences, communication and more for these specialty affiliates. Check out all our affiliate partners!

WSAC Affiliates

WSAC Staff

WSAC staff is here to help! Whether you are looking for legislative assistance, communications support, or data and resources, we are committed to serving the counties of Washington State!

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Washington Counties – A History

Did you know that 34 of 39 WA counties are older than the state of Washington? County government is often older than statehood – which is why county government is so well established and the primary unit of local government. In 1889 when Washington achieved statehood, there were 34 counties already established as administrative centers of their regions.

Louisiana Purchase – 1803

The United States bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, setting into motion the journeys of Lewis & Clark and westward expansion.

The Vancouver District – 1845

In 1845 the Vancouver District was created out of Oregon Country – this included parts of present day Washington and Canada. Within the same year, Lewis County was created as a county inside the Vancouver District.

Northern Limits

In 1846 the Oregon Boundary Treaty established the 49th parallel as the boundary between the United States and British territories.

The End of the 1840’s

In 1849 the Vancouver District was renamed as Clark County.

Washington Territorial Capital, ca 1890

Source: Susan Parish Photograph Collection, 1889-1990, Washington State Archives.

Vintage map of Washington State, United States.

The 1850’s

In 1853 the Washington Territory was separated from the Oregon Territory. Between 1851 and 1859 the following counties were formed: Pacific, Thurston, Island, Jefferson, King, Pierce, Skamania, Whatcom, Mason, Grays Harbor, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Clallam, Kitsap, and Klickitat.

The 1860’s

Between 1861 and 1865 the following counties were formed: Snohomish, Stevens, and Yakima.

The 1870’s

Between 1872 and 1879 the following counties were formed: Whitman, San Juan, Columbia and Spokane.


Between 1881 and 1888 the following counties were formed: Garfield, Asotin, Kittitas, Lincoln, Adams, Skagit, Franklin, Douglas, and Okanogan.

Washington Becomes a State!

In 1899 Washington achieved statehood, and brought 34 counties with it into the Union! Later in the year, Ferry and Chelan counties were formed after Washington became a state.

The Final Counties

Between 1900 and 1911 the final three counties were added: Benton, Grant, and Pend Oreille. The Washington State Association of Counties was formed in 1906 to support all the counties in Washington State.

Early logging on Big Skookum

Source: State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives. Original images held at the Washington State Archives, Olympia, WA.