Sound Transit Board picks Ladenburg

The Sound Transit Board has elected Pierce County Executive John W. Ladenburg to succeed King County Executive Ron Sims as chair. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and Everett City Council Member Mark Olson were elected as vice chairs.

"I'm honored to be selected as the chair of Sound Transit for the next two years," said Ladenburg, who has served as the board's vice chair since 2001. "This will be important to Pierce County, because the agency has an ambitious plan under way to expand Sound Transit services here. We are currently planning to extend Sounder train service to South Tacoma and Lakewood and to expand service to Pierce County from three trains in the morning and three in the afternoon to 18 trains both in the morning and afternoon.

"In addition, we are studying, along with the Puyallup Tribe, an expansion of the light rail system here that would double its size. So to be the chair of Pierce County during the next two years is going to be an exciting prospect for Pierce County. I will be in the best possible position to help these projects move forward," he said.

The new chair said the coming months also will be a vital and exciting time for the region as Sound Transit builds light rail in the Seattle area and continues planning for its extension to the University District and Northgate. "We're also looking forward to expanding our Sounder commuter rail system to Everett and continuing to improve our ST Express regional bus system, including building new transit centers and direct freeway access ramps for buses and carpools," Ladenburg said.

The 18-member Sound Transit Board, created by the 1996 Sound Move ballot measure, includes 17 local elected officials from throughout Sound Transit's service area in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties and the state Secretary of Transportation.

Ladenburg praised the leadership that outgoing Chair Ron Sims and Vice Chair Dave Earling have offered during the last two years. "The people of our congested region owe Ron Sims and Dave Earling heartfelt thanks for their exemplary leadership and public service," Ladenburg said. "They have played key roles in getting Sound Transit back on track and moving forward on delivering the regional transportation system the voters mandated."

Nickels said Sound Transit is building a critical piece of the region's 21st century transportation system and creating thousands of new jobs. "This is a huge project, and we're going to do it right for the people of Seattle and the entire region," he said.

Olson said the transportation system being built is critical to the region's future. "The people of our region put their faith in Sound Transit to address our serious transportation challenges. The board's firm commitment is to continue building solutions," he said.

Ladenburg, Nickels and Olson will officially assume their positions on Jan. 1. All three leaders bring extensive experience to their positions on the Sound Transit Board.

Ladenburg began his professional career in 1974 as a trial attorney and was elected Pierce County prosecuting attorney in 1986, serving 14 years. He served on the Tacoma City Council from 1982 through 1986, focusing on priorities including in protecting the environment and in establishing clean drinking water standards and serving as lead negotiator in the historic Puyallup Indian Tribe land settlement. As prosecuting attorney, Ladenburg was recognized nationally for innovative programs against drug dealers and gang members. He also helped create Safe Streets of Pierce County and the "Three Strikes And You're Out" law.

With his election as County Executive in 2000, Ladenburg began a new era of cooperation in Pierce County, working hand-in-hand with towns, cities and businesses to address high-priority issues including transportation, public safety, salmon restoration, education, the environment and economic development.

The Pierce County executive is respected for his regional leadership. As vice president of the Puget Sound Regional Council, he is committed to effectively managing region-wide growth and transportation issues. He also helps lead the Tri-County Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Regional Access and Mobility Project.

The longest-serving member of the Sound Transit Board, Nickels is known for his years of work to improve the region's transportation system, including his key role in pushing for the light rail system that the region's voters approved in 1996 as part of the Sound Move transportation package. He was elected to the King County Council in 1987, earning respect for his leadership on numerous county issues until his 2001 election as Seattle mayor. In his first year as mayor he earned a national reputation for innovative leadership in addressing public safety, economic opportunity and other challenges facing the City of Seattle.

An attorney specializing in general litigation, Olson is a lifelong resident of Everett who formerly served on the staffs of former U.S. Sen. Henry M. Jackson and 2nd District Rep. Lloyd Meads. Elected to the Everett City Council in 2001, he has focused on regional transportation issues and guiding the City in playing a more prominent role in the region. Olson is chair of Snohomish County Tomorrow, a group of elected officials who are addressing growth management and regional issues, and represents the City and the Port of Everett on the Trade Development Alliance.

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