April 27, 2010
City governance was more than a job for Kos
It’s hard to imagine the city of Issaquah without City Administrator Leon Kos behind the scenes. When he arrived in 1977, Issaquah was still a one-stoplight town. He has been there for every stoplight since.Leon has never been Mr. Kos. He’s just Leon — unpretentious, humble, direct — always ready with a chuckle and a quip.
Developers and business people have not always liked doing business with Leon, but they have respected him for putting Issaquah’s interests first. He is a committed environmentalist and has used his influence to guarantee Issaquah would protect its aquifer, its salmon streams and its trees. He has helped Issaquah wrap its arms around the Mountains to Sound Greenway to preserve the Interstate 90 greenbelt. His ability to craft deals is what’s bringing Issaquah’s model zero-energy house to fruition.
But Leon is not just a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. He wears his compassion on his shirtsleeve and rolls it up to help out. Look for him to be flipping burgers with the Kiwanis Club, walking laps at 2 a.m. for Relay for Life, or teaching a Junior Achievement class at Echo Glen juvenile detention center.
Some years, he’s been controversial, especially when mayoral candidates vowed to get rid of him. But once elected, they realized the city is better off with an administrator who gets along with virtually everyone. He quickly becomes a friend.
Each person who knows Leon has his or her own perspective, and we have ours. To us, Leon is the epitome of open government. He doesn’t hesitate to tell you what’s going on in the city — just ask. It has been a rare occasion in his 33 years in Issaquah government that The Press news staff had to question an executive session or had limited access to a public record. To us, there is no finer tribute.
As he retires this week, Leon asks for no honors or public displays of gratitude. We only hope he knows he’s got the community’s respect and appreciation, just like he’s always had Issaquah’s back.