A life-long resident of King County, Executive Dow Constantine is a proven leader, regional problem solver, and effective advocate for our families and communities. Throughout his service in the Legislature, on the King County Council, and as King County Executive, Dow has consistently fought for transportation solutions, environmental conservation, public health and safety, and government accountability.
Dow was raised in West Seattle. His parents, now retired, were public school teachers. Dow’s grandparents lived in Everett, and he spent childhood summers at the cabin his millworker grandfather built with his own hands on Snohomish County’s Port Susan Bay. When the threat of the construction of a major oil port on the bay galvanized the community to successful action, Dow learned the power of grassroots politics and the law – lessons that would guide his future public service career.
Dow graduated in 1980 from West Seattle High School and remains an active volunteer for his alma mater. As a student at the University of Washington he worked nights, weekends, and summers – doing everything from fish processing to bartending, stocking shelves to teaching skiing. He was a volunteer DJ for several years at the college radio station, KCMU (now KEXP), where he first met Shirley Carlson. After serving as a legislative intern to 34th District State Senator Phil Talmadge, Dow graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in political science. Born of a long line of devoted Huskies (his grandfather and great uncle played on Washington's famed Rose Bowl teams of the 1920s), Dow continued his studies at UW, earning his law degree in 1989 and a master’s degree in urban planning in 1992.
Dow began his professional career in the early 1990s, practicing law and working on a number of community projects. When he and his brother Blair helped activist Charlie Chong and other neighbors in the successful effort to preserve the College Street Ravine, Dow first worked with a young County Councilmember Greg Nickels. Dow went on to serve as Councilmember Nickels legislative aide in the mid-1990s.
In 1996 Dow won election to Washington's House of Representatives. In 1998 he was re-elected and became co-chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He was elected to the State Senate in 2000, to the seat Senator Mike Heavey vacated to become a judge. In the Senate, Dow served as vice-chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Dow was appointed to the King County Council in January 2002 to succeed Nickels and was elected four times by the voters – in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007 – before being elected King County Executive in 2009.
As King County Executive, Dow has worked for efficient, performance-based government – getting the most value for each tax dollar. A strong supporter of the environment from his earliest days, he has taken a leadership role on the tough issues of growth management, expanding transit mobility, preserving open space, and climate change. (To learn more about Dow’s first term as Executive, visit the Dow’s First Term page.)
Dow and Shirley live in the West Seattle neighborhood where Dow was raised.