About Dino Rossi
Dino Rossi is a third-generation Washingtonian. The Rossis’ family story is like a lot of other Americans...
Dino’s paternal grandpa, Silvino Rossi, immigrated to America from Italy around the turn of the 20th century. Silvino spent some time in New York City, but it was too crowded for him so he decided to come to Washington, where his sister had already settled and married. Speaking little English, Silvino had few options, so he became a coal miner in Black Diamond along with many other Italian immigrants.
Silvino and his wife, Concetta, stayed in Black Diamond until the early 1920s, then they moved to Seattle – first the Rainier Valley and finally Beacon Hill. Silvino worked for the City of Seattle building streets. The Rossis had 11 children, one of whom was John Rossi, Dino’s father.
Education was very important in the Rossi household, so when Dino’s dad graduated from Cleveland High School he decided to go to Seattle University and become a teacher. Dino’s dad ended up teaching in Seattle Public Schools, where he taught for some 20 years.
Dino’s mother, Eve, came from Alaska. She was half Irish, half Tlingit Alaskan Native. She’d married in Alaska and had five children, but the marriage became difficult. To get away from the situation, Eve took her kids to Seattle. For a time the family lived in public housing in Holly Park while Eve waitressed during the day and went to beauty school at night.
When John Rossi and Eve met, Eve had her five children and John was a widower with a son he’d adopted. They married and had one son together: Dino Rossi. The Rossi family, now seven children strong, eventually moved up to Mountlake Terrace. Dino’s dad was teaching at Viewlands Elementary School in North Seattle. The Rossi kids were raised on a school-teacher’s salary. They didn’t have a lot of money, but their house was full of love.
Dino attended Viewlands Elementary, the same school where his dad taught. He went on to Mountlake Terrace Junior High and Woodway High School in Edmonds. Dino was an avid baseball player throughout school.
For college, Dino decided on Seattle University, his dad’s alma mater. He had to work his way through school since his family couldn’t afford it. So Dino worked various jobs: he did construction, worked at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center with Bernie Whitebear, and was a janitor for a janitorial service... he even janitored at the Space Needle for awhile!
After graduating from Seattle U with a degree in Business in 1982, Dino decided to travel. His father had died his junior year, and he needed some time before he went back to work. He had saved up enough money, and he left $200 in the bank so he’d have something to fall back on when he got back. He traveled around Southeast Asia, where his brother was a commercial diver, for about eight months.
When Dino returned to Seattle, he saw an ad in the paper for becoming a commercial real estate agent. Dino got his license and started his career. He worked hard, and by the time he was 25 he’d saved up enough to buy his first property, a small apartment building. A short time later Dino met and married his wife, Terry. Dino and Terry first lived in Seattle, and after their first child, Juliauna (now 13), was born, they moved to the Sammamish Plateau near Issaquah. They also have three other children: Jake, 10; Joseph, 8; and little Jillian, 3.
Dino built a successful career in commercial real estate and co-founded the Eastside Commercial Bank. In addition to community service with senior centers, the Boys & Girls Club and the Nature Conservancy, Dino became interested in politics and public service. In 1992 he ran unsuccessfully for the 5th Legislative District state Senate seat. He learned a lot from his loss, though, and in 1996 he ran again and won. He was re-elected in 2000 with nearly 70 percent of the vote. In a twist of fate, Dino ended up representing Black Diamond, the same place where his grandpa Silvino had been a coal miner almost a century before.
In the state Senate, Dino became a leader on budget issues. He eventually became Chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee – which writes the state budget – in 2003, when the State faced the largest dollar deficit in history. Dino was able to work across party lines and balance the budget without raising taxes and while still protecting the most vulnerable. Dino also focused on other issues: he spearheaded legislation to punish drunk drivers and child abusers; he worked to fund the Issaquah salmon hatchery; he secured funding for Hispanic/Latino health clinics, and he championed funding for the developmentally disabled community.