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An executive transition in King County


Tim Hill’s county identification card. Record Group 140, County Executive Tim Hill, King County Archives.

In 1993 King County Executive Tim Hill was campaigning for a third term.  King County government was verging on a transition: the merger with the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (METRO), to start on January 1, 1994.  Tim Hill had put in much groundwork for this day.  He appealed to voters that he was the best person to continue overseeing the merger.

Excerpts from promotional video on the King County-METRO merger, Architects of Change, 1993. Series 1423 Office of Information Resource Management, photographs, audio/visual material, King County Archives.



Gary Locke

On November 3, 1993, King County voters chose popular state legislator Gary Locke as County Executive; and Tim Hill found himself stepping down after eight years in office.

The Seattle Times and cartoonist Brian Bassett commented on the challenges facing the Executive-elect on the day after the election.

Gary Locke. Series 473, Box 3, Folder 1
Below: newspaper clippings, Series 1931, Box 2, Folder 3, King County Archives.



Also on the day after the election, Gary Locke wrote to Tim Hill.

Locke to Hill.jpg

Series 1880, Box 7, Folder 18


Gary Locke: from campaign to public office

Records of Joan Yoshitomi, transition manager for Gary Locke, provide insight into the democratic process of peacefully transferring elected authority. In the first days after the election, the Locke team had to:

  • Conclude business arrangements regarding its rented campaign office space
  • Arrange for the new executive to receive attorney-client briefings from Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng
  • Plan and cost inauguration
  • Raise funds for inauguration from donors
  • Hire a management consulting company
  • Develop a communication strategy for the Executive; solicit speechwriters/ assistant
  • Solicit input regarding Locke Administration priorities
  • Develop a “first 120 days” action plan that could be communicated to the public
  • Receive instructions for operating Executive Office computers
  • Solicit suggestions for new department directors and executive staff
  • Request resignations of the current administration’s Executive Office staff and department directors


Letter of resignation by Parks, Planning and Resources Department Director Lois Scwennesen.  Series 1880, box 7, folder 13, King County Archives.


Tim Hill: from public office to private citizen

At the same time, Tim Hill and his Executive Office staff were:

  • Arranging transition materials from County executive departments
  • Arranging exit counseling, making vacation leave arrangements, and holding unemployment briefings for persons who were being asked to resign
  • Making arrangements with the Locke team for paying transition personnel

Tim Hill retired from elected politics but continued public service in the Seattle-King County area as a teacher and as a board member for various nonprofit organizations. He remains involved in politics as a private citizen.

Tim Hill’s records to the Archives


Detail of handwritten notes, Series 435, Tim Hill management work papers, King County Archives.

On leaving public office Tim Hill also took care to make arrangements with University of Washington Libraries for the transfer of some of his executive working papers to its manuscript collections. The papers were returned to the King County Archives a few years later as Series 435, Management work papers, and Series 436, Project files.


Governor Locke

Gary Locke was sworn in as King County’s fifth county executive on January 3, 1994. After a year in office, Executive Locke addressed the Council about his vision for a new way of governing, challenges facing the County, and how to work through differences between governmental branches and political views. Below is the conclusion of that speech, in which he embraces the political cartoon with him as “Captain Locke” of the starship U.S.S. King County.

Conclusion of King County Executive Gary Locke’s State-of-the-County Address to the King County Council, (ca. 1995) Series 1423 Office of Information Resource Management, photographs, audio/visual material, King County Archives.

Locke served until 1996 when he was elected Washington State governor. He later served in the Obama Administration as Secretary of Commerce and ambassador to China.

County Executive Records, 1981-1996

The Locke transition records are a small part of a large collection of King County Executive records processed by King County Archives staff between 2008 and 2016. The twenty-three series, from the administrations of Executives Randy Revelle, Tim Hill and Gary Locke, include county agency files, board and commission files, chronological correspondence files, legislative files, news releases, proclamations, studies and reports, and Metro transition files. Taken together, the records document a wide range of important policy issues, including:

  • Expansion of the Farmlands Preservation Program
  • Construction of a new county detention facility in downtown Seattle, and a Regional Justice Center in Kent
  • Onset of AIDS in King County, and the county’s response to the epidemic
  • Ongoing discussions with the Seattle Mariners over their continued tenancy in the Kingdome stadium
  • Beginning of efforts to replace the Kingdome with new stadiums
  • Land use planning under the Growth Management Act
  • Approval of the Regional Transit Authority, later known as Sound Transit
  • Merger of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle with King County government

The King County Archives invites researchers to contact us regarding this significant collection.

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