UPDATE: Seattle Parks looking for a new superintendent after Jesús Aguirre resigns

12:20 PM: With so much Seattle Parks property in West Seattle, leadership changes in the department are always news, and there’s another one on the way. Thanks to the texter who tipped us that superintendent Jesús Aguirre has resigned after two and a half years on the job. We called the Parks communications office for more information and they say they’re working on it. (Photo from seattle.gov)

2:06 PM: Parks spokesperson Rachel Schulkin says Aguirre’s resignation will be effective January 2nd, after which time he plans to “take some time to be with family” and eventually join his family’s welding business. He told Mayor Burgess on Monday, and Parks staff on Tuesday. A news release is due out from the mayor’s office soon.

3:16 PM: And the mayor’s statement has arrived in the inbox:

Jesús Aguirre has been an incredible leader and advocate for both our parks system, and the community supports offered through our programs and recreational facilities. He has been a great leader to team of over 2,000 permanent and seasonal parks and recreation employees, and will be missed.

During his tenure, Jesús led the initial implementation of the Seattle Metropolitan Park District, which through tax-payer funding provides much needed maintenance to our parks and recreation facilities. Additionally, he engaged neighborhoods around the development of a Community Center Strategic Plan that led to longer hours at centers, programming targeted to underserved communities, major maintenance to aging centers, and eliminating fees to many drop-in recreation programs. Jesús advocated for the staff at Seattle Parks and Recreation to ensure they received recognition for their excellent service to the city and continued opportunities for growth and development. Most importantly, he was a champion for utilizing park resources to further equity within our city, and in being strategic in how we grow and sustain a park and recreation system as our city changes.

Before Aguirre’s arrival, Christopher Williams served as acting superintendent for four years, after the 2010 departure of Tim Gallagher.

18 Replies to "UPDATE: Seattle Parks looking for a new superintendent after Jesús Aguirre resigns"

  • Trileigh November 8, 2017 (12:47 pm)

    Wow, that’s big news. The Parks website isn’t mentioning it yet. I’ll be really interested to hear what’s behind his resignation. 

  • Trileigh November 8, 2017 (12:54 pm)

    Congratulations on the scoop, by the way!

  • Forest November 8, 2017 (1:51 pm)

    Seattle mayors choose their own department heads. Nothing unusual about the Parks Superintendent from an outgoing administration leaving when a new mayor is elected.

  • Dave November 8, 2017 (3:00 pm)

    How much did they pay this guy? 

  • JoAnne November 8, 2017 (3:49 pm)

    It’s pretty unusual in Seattle for a mayor to decide he wants a different superintendent, especially if the current one has not been controversial.  There’s probably an interesting story behind this move, which we may never know.  On the other hand, it would be very nice if the head of SDOT decides this is a good time to step down.

  • JoAnne November 8, 2017 (3:58 pm)

    The Seattle Times reported Aguirre’s salary in 2016 as $ 209,391.

  • Jeannie November 8, 2017 (4:18 pm)

    Not a big fan or Aguirre or his predecessor. But I had to laugh at the “take some time to be with family,” the standard excuse. Let’s hope his successor is a champion  of park preservation and green-space expansion, and is engaged with the communities.

  • Jeannie November 8, 2017 (4:29 pm)

    For more info about Murray hiring Jesus Aquirre and his wife, see this article from 2015. Not a very impressive resume. And surely we can find someone local to do the job. We have plenty of smart, motivated people here in Seattle who want to protect our parks and connect with neighborhoods.


    Let’s not forget the idiotic “Go Ape” zipline proposal for Lincoln Park. I think that was under the tenure of Chris Williams. Fortunately, the people of West Seattle spoke out loudly and clearly against this for-profit “amusement.”

  • Susan Helf November 8, 2017 (6:19 pm)

    Jesus Aguirre is deeply committed to turning over Seattle community centers and pools to non-profits to operate. I am glad to see him go. I also want someone local who understands the importance of supporting our park facilities with public funds.  Private management of public facilities will mean lack of accountability and transparency, increase in user costs,  full-time City employees with family-wage, benefited jobs, replaced by part-time, low-paid non-unionized employees.   

    • McBride November 8, 2017 (9:26 pm)

      The Associated Recreation Council (ARC), a non-profit, has been partnering with Seattle Parks to staff community centers and pools since 1975. https://www.arcseattle.org/

      • JoAnne November 8, 2017 (10:31 pm)

        Right, and the ARC/advisory council system should be publicized by the parks department.  It was the brilliant brainchild of a former parks superintendent (and zoo director, among many other roles in the city of Seattle) Dave Towne, permitting fundraising to go to the community centers rather than to the general  fund, and allowing community input into the programming of their local facilities – among many other benefits. It is not well-understood by the general population, but it’s the envy of many parks departments nationwide.

  • Vann November 8, 2017 (6:55 pm)

    I️ am interested in whether Mr. Aguirre’s wife, who heads an early childhood Education progam for the city, and who was hired at the same time, will be staying on.

  • Charles Ragen November 8, 2017 (8:17 pm)

    Not here to speculate on Mr Aguirre’s career moves. Personally I wish him and his family well. However I think the superintendent compensation package should be divided among frontline maintenance labor who are in danger of economic eviction.  

  • Carol A Fisher November 9, 2017 (8:33 am)

    Agree…. probably very interesting…. and we’ll never know the true facts behind it.

  • Carol A Fisher November 9, 2017 (8:35 am)

    Remember the “Fix It First” campaign for Parks District?  Maybe we can get back to that and forget the politically driven “parks certification” efforts which are eating up funds and staff time.  Let’s bake the cake before making the frosting!

  • MsB November 9, 2017 (10:15 am)

    Wow what a shock………..People are retiring or leaving big time….Good luck on next superintendent…..


    He was so nice and always came out to see in person the different community centers….He will be missed…. 

  • Melissa Westbrook November 9, 2017 (11:49 am)

    I concur with others here; I believe there is more to this.  Also, as someone else noted, what about his wife is the head of Pre–k?

    What was interesting about the Aguirres is that – for whatever reason – they scrubbed 10 years of their professional life off their LinkedIn profiles.  (As did Mayor Murray). They ran a couple of charter schools in Arizona and they left for D.C just as they were going under.  (He was still on the board at the time).  

  • Lisanne November 14, 2017 (11:19 am)

    Not surprising that a new Mayor and new Council members want to sort out some long-troubled civic areas. Particularly the deeply troubled bureaucracy of the Parks Dept., which seems incapable of sorting out it’s internal issues and becoming an effective manager of public holdings.  There is a general and pervasive awareness that Parks is out of control and no one seems to be able to wrangle it. 

    Look at the mess out at Sand Point, Bldg.s 11 and 2 in particular.  Mismanagement issues around renovations, coordination with City departments and profit/non-profit organization leases go almost completely unresolved and seem to be run like a little fiefdom.  I imagine all parks have the same problems and have heard rumors that the Superintendent is actually quitting out of sheer frustration.  Don’t rely on Parks spokespeople to be transparent – it has never been remotely their response to any crises.  They are now scrambling to address new mandates by Council around equity, public benefit, etc. and everything seems to be up in the air for the near future.  It’s a mess and someone needs to get it cleared up – too much money is being spent on Parks for this kind of awful administration.

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