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The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday appointed attorney Rod Dembowski to fill the seat left vacant when Bob Ferguson became attorney general.

Dembowski was selected in a 5-3 vote, with Councilmembers Larry Gossett, Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert voting no. Dembowski beat out two other finalists — state Rep. Cindy Ryu, a former Shoreline mayor, and Shoreline City Councilmember Will Hall, a Snohomish County land-use analyst.

Dembowski was sworn in immediately after the vote.

Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, who may have been the deciding vote, said he was finally convinced Dembowski was the right choice when Ferguson on Sunday endorsed Dembowski at a campaign event.

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All three finalists plan to run for the seat in November, and all three have begun raising money and campaigning. In effect, Dembowski’s appointment gives him a 10-month head start.

Von Reichbauer said the support of Ferguson was meaningful because he had been elected in the 1st District and knew the constituents better than the other council members, who serve different parts of the county.

The job, filling one of nine seats on the council, pays $139,591 annually. District 1 includes Northeast Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell and parts of Woodinville and Kirkland.

Councilmember Julia Patterson said she was impressed by Dembowski’s broad support and his making human-services funding a big part of his platform.

“He wants to serve for the right reasons,” she said.

Council Chairman Larry Gossett said he would have preferred to support Ryu, a Korean American, who he said is well qualified and brings a unique perspective as a woman of color.

“I think the County Council would be extremely well served if we were to select a person, a woman, at this time, who is also an immigrant,” he said.

Dembowski, 41, is a Democrat and lives in North Seattle. As a land-use and municipal lawyer for Foster Pepper, he has worked on many of the issues that come before the Metropolitan King County Council. He had the support of much of the downtown Seattle business establishment.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or

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