Dunn trades prosecution for role on county council
April 30, 2009 · Updated 12:55 PM
Reagan Dunn finds himself making big
decisions for Plateau
Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part article on County Councilman Reagan Dunn.
By Kevin Hanson
From the vantage point enjoyed only by a close family member, young Reagan Dunn watched his mother carve out a career in public service. And he eventually came the realization, “I can do that.”
Now, holding onto a resume that includes stints in private practice and as a federal prosecutor, Dunn has followed his mother Jennifer - a former member of Congress - into the world of elective office.
Since the first of the year, Dunn has represented most of south King County - including Enumclaw and Black Diamond - on the revamped Metropolitan King County Council. It's a sprawling district that stretches north to the city limit signs in both Issaquah and Bellevue, forcing the Republican councilman to tackle issues near and dear to the hearts of both suburban and rural interests.
Twice recently Dunn has made public appearances in Plateau communities to outline his goals and make himself familiar with constituents. He spoke before a dinner meeting of the Enumclaw Area Chamber of Commerce (in Black Diamond) and, the following week, addressed the Enumclaw City Council. And, recently, he sat down with The Courier-Herald to expand upon his political views and fill in some personal details.
The early years
Dunn corrects the notion that he grew up around politics and was destined for life in the public eye. “During Mom's first campaign, I was in college,” he points out, while admitting he did his part to boost her candidacy. He recalls walking the streets of Enumclaw, ringing doorbells and encouraging voters to send his mother to Washington, D.C.
At the time, Dunn was earning degrees in communications and international business from Arizona State University, having originally headed to ASU to study architecture. After discovering “I did not fit the architectural mold,” Dunn changed academic direction. It was also during his years in Tempe that Dunn was bitten by the law bug and, following graduation (cum laude) he entered the University of Washington School of Law.
After a short stay with an east King County law firm, Dunn was appointed, in January 2001, by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Justice Department. He worked as a senior counsel under U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, serving as the first national coordinator for Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Bush administration's national effort to reduce gun violence. From this post, Dunn served on the executive committee of the attorney general's Task Force on Gun Violence and chaired the Justice Department's Firearms Enforcement Assistance Team (FEAT). This program was credited across the nation for reducing incidents of gun violence, including here in Western Washington. In 2003, Dunn was recognized by Ashcroft for significant contributions to the fight against gun violence in America.
Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Dunn worked as a Justice Department representative on the president's Task Force on Citizen Preparedness and was actively involved in the creation of USA Freedom Corps and Citizen Corps. He helped to design and implement the V.I.P.S. Program (Volunteers in Police Service) and led the Bush administration's efforts to expand the National Neighborhood Watch Program to include the fight against terrorism. He also participated in the investigation and prosecution of Zacharias Moussaoui in the Eastern District of Virginia, commonly referred to as the th Hijacker.”
After two hectic years, “I felt like I'd done good work, but I wanted something different,” Dunn said. With that, he packed his bags and headed off for a two-month stint as a federal prosecutor, taking on drug runners in Miami. Finding the work rewarding, “I decided I wanted to do it full time,” Dunn said.
At the same time, Dunn was feeling the pull of the Pacific Northwest and looking for an opportunity to come home. With his now-broad background and friends in high places, Dunn was able to land a post as assistant United States attorney for the West District of Washington.
“It was just a great job,” he said, explaining that his primary focus was the investigation and prosecution of cases involving federal weapons violations.
Next week: The prospect of serving King County citizens and his goals.