In 1979, under the leadership of retired logger Ray Freeman of Cottage Lake, a committee proposed the formation of Cascade County out of the eastern portion of King County with Woodinville as the county seat. The King County Boundary Review Board disapproved the incorporation plan for Woodinville because the projected tax base would not support municipal operations. The move for Cascade County died out.
In 1985, the City of Bothell proposed to annex both sides of a right-of-way along State Route 522 to include a proposed 104-acre shopping center, adding substantially to the city's tax base. The annexation would also gobble up the "Welcome to Woodinville" sign. After the Bothell move, residents and business people organized the Woodinville Incorporation Study Group to become a city. They chose a smaller area (16 square miles v. the previous 28 miles) for the new city and the new financial projections proved positive.
It took until June 1986 to get the ballot measure approved by the Boundary Review Board (less 300 acres whose residents felt a greater affinity for Redmond). On September 15, 1986, voters turned down the measure by 33 votes out of approximately 4,200 ballots cast. Observers speculated that the defeat was due to word that King County was about to perform $4.4 million in road improvements to the area, work that the new city could avoid paying for if it just waited.
In the fall of 1987, incorporation backers started again. They gathered petition signatures and got it approved by the Boundary Review Board, but farmer Thomas McBride appealed to the County Council to have his 400-acre Hollywood Farm excluded from the plan. This delayed the vote for a year and half.
On March 14, 1989, incorporation lost by 14 votes out of 7,062 ballots cast. Then King County changed some minds when it announced plans to establish an interim jail in the area. The City of Redmond could withhold water and sewer services to a project it disapproved of, but Woodinville residents had no leverage at all. Incorporation went back on the ballot on a smaller scale, 5.7 square miles. In the election of May 19, 1992, the measure passed by 52 votes out of 1,654 ballots cast.
Citizens selected a seven-member city council on November 4, 1992, and Lucy DeYoung was chosen mayor. DeYoung's qualifications were challenged (she claimed her business as her residence), but she stayed in office. On March 27, 1993, Woodinville officially became a city and residents celebrated with its All Fools Parade and a Basset Bash dog show.