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County Council selects leaders

SEATTLE - A new bipartisan team is at the helm of the Metropolitan King County Council, faced with the daunting task of filling a multimillion-dollar hole in the 2003 county budget and beyond.

For the first time in the council's history, a Democrat and a Republican will hold the top two leadership jobs.

Seattle Democrat Cynthia Sullivan is the new council chairwoman, and Federal Way Republican Pete von Reichbauer is the new vice chairman.

Normally, the majority party, in this case the Democrats, holds on to the top leadership posts, although some of the council's major committee chairmanships are given to members of the minority party.

Monday's meeting was the first of the year and focused mainly on swearing in four new council members, the council's largest-ever freshman class. Among them were Julia Patterson of SeaTac, whose election last fall gave the Democrats control of the council, and Kathy Lambert of Redmond, whose District 3 includes the majority of the Snoqualmie Valley.

Lambert was elected last fall to replace Louise Miller of Woodinville on the council.

The council also appointed state Sen. Dow Constantine of Seattle to replace Greg Nickels in District 8. Nickels was formally sworn in Monday as Seattle mayor.

Jane Hague, a Bellevue Republican, will head the council's growth management committee. Seattle Democrat Larry Phillips was elected the council's budget chairman. Lambert will head the Regional Water Quality Committee.

Absent from the list of chairmanships are David Irons of Sammamish and Kent Pullen of Kent, two Republicans who represent much of rural southeast King County.

Irons said he's continuing to feel the heat for not supporting the deal that clinched passage of this year's county budget.

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