County Council adopts memorial for Gov. Spellman

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gov. John Spellman in 1978
Photo courtesy King County
Permanent recognition of King County’s first Executive 

The Metropolitan King County Council gave its unanimous support to a motion sponsored by the entire council renaming the King County Administration Building and the 4th Ave block after former Gov. and King County Executive John Spellman.

“Gov. Spellman is very deserving of this honor,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, the prime sponsor of the legislation. 
“As the first County Executive, he led the transformation of King County into a strong regional government and deserves immeasurable credit for what King County has become."

The King County Administration Building and the stretch of 4th Ave. between James St. and Jefferson St. in Downtown Seattle where it is located will be named in Gov. Spellman’s honor. The block will be named the John Spellman Block and Memorial Building.

“We are deeply honored by the unanimous support of the County Council to name the location of the King County Administrative Building after our father, John D. Spellman,” said Teresa Spellman Gamble, daughter of Gov. Spellman. 
“We are so proud of our dad’s many contributions to King County and the State, and we are truly appreciative of this recognition by the leadership of the County.”

Gov. John Spellman
Photo courtesy Washington state library
John Dennis Spellman was born in 1926 in the City of Seattle. He attended high school at Seattle Preparatory School, then graduated from Seattle University after serving his country in World War II.

In 1966, Spellman was elected to the three-member King County Board of Commissioners. When county voters approved a plan to implement a home rule charter establishing the King County Council and the position of County Executive, Spellman was elected as King County’s very first Executive in 1969.

During the next 12 years, Executive Spellman led the transition of King County into one of the west coast’s strongest regional governments. Spellman consolidated previously independent departments, promoted racial equality, criminal justice reforms, land-use planning and farmlands preservation, and established a meritocracy within the County to ensure its abilities to serve the people.

King County Executive
John Spellman and the Kingdome
Photo courtesy WA SOS
Spellman is perhaps most remembered for supervising the construction of the Kingdome, allowing Seattle to acquire two hallmarks of the northwest: the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners.

Following his 3-term service as Executive, Spellman was elected as the 18th Governor of Washington State in 1980. As Governor, Spellman was known as a steadfast defender of our state’s prestigious federal lands, even blocking a proposal to run an oil pipeline under the waters of Puget Sound which would have heavily damaged our waterway’s ecology. After leaving office in 1985, he was named partner at a law firm in Seattle.

Gov. Spellman passed away on January 16, 2018, at age 91. His wife of 63 years, Lois passed away nine days later at age 90.


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