Fred Jarrett enters county-exec race

April 9, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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State Sen. Fred Jarrett, who has been considering running for county executive in November, said he’s entering the race.

Two Metropolitan King County Council members — Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine, both of Seattle — announced earlier this year they were entering the race to replace Ron Sims as county executive. Jarrett said he’d offer voters an alternative to a Seattle-based politician for the executive post. 

Last month, Sims was nominated by the Obama administration as deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sims won’t resign as executive until the U.S. Senate confirms the HUD appointment. The council is considering appointing an interim executive to run the day-to-day operations of the office until the November election.

“We need someone who’s not from Seattle and has not been part of the problem for the past 24 years,” Jarrett said. “I’m also the only candidate with executive experience.”

Jarrett is a project manager at The Boeing Co. Last November, he was elected to the state Senate representing the 41st District, which includes Mercer Island, Newcastle, south Bellevue, north Renton and portions of Issaquah and unincorporated King County.

Before his election to the state Senate, Jarrett served eight years in the state House of Representatives. Prior to that, he served on the Mercer Island School Board, the Mercer Island City Council and was mayor of Mercer Island for two terms. In the early 1970s, Jarrett served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. 

Jarrett, 59, cut his political teeth working on Republican Dan Evans’ first gubernatorial campaign. He later served as a Republican precinct officer and legislative district chair.

Jarrett made news in December 2007 when he switched parties to become a Democrat. In making his decision, he said the Republican Party has moved too far to the right and is out of touch with suburban votes in the 41st District.

“I switched parties because I was tired of Republicans bashing government,” Jarrett said March 14 at a Town Hall meeting at Hazelwood Elementary School in Newcastle. “Well, if you don’t like government, move to Afghanistan because they don’t have a government there.”

Phillips, 57, a former state legislator, has been on the County Council since 1992.

Constantine, 47, was appointed to the council in 2002 and has since been elected three times. He earlier served as a state legislator and state senator and is now council chairman.

The executive’s job will become a nonpartisan office this year, according to a county charter change voters passed in November. Both Phillips and Constantine are Democrats.

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