4:17 PM: Second big announcement from Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell: Sam Zimbabwe is out as SDOT director. Just received:
Today, Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell released the following statement:
“Today, I am announcing that when I take office in January, I will be making a change in Seattle Department of Transportation leadership. We will embark on a robust national search for a new director who is aligned with my vision for this critical department. As we embark on that search, I will appoint SDOT Chief of Staff Kristen Simpson to serve as interim director. Kristen has let me know that she will not be applying for the permanent position.
“Going forward, my vision is for a Seattle Department of Transportation that centers equity throughout our transportation network across every street and sidewalk, in every neighborhood and community. We must create a balanced transportation ecosystem – increasing safety and decreasing travel times by bolstering transit, improving sidewalks, protecting bike lanes, and recognizing the role of cars and new electric vehicles.
“From Vision Zero to net zero, we will prioritize climate resilience and lead at the intersections of accessibility, reliability, safety, and sustainability.
“I want to thank Director Zimbabwe for his service and dedication to the City of Seattle. His leadership and quick action closing the West Seattle Bridge no doubt saved lives and has put the bridge on track to open in mid-2022. His response to the pandemic – thoughtful and meaningful efforts like Stay Healthy Streets and outdoor dining permits – should be celebrated. I wish him all the best in the future.”
Outgoing Mayor Jenny Durkan hired Zimbabwe three years ago, one year into her term. He had previously worked in Washington, D.C.
5:40 PM: Adding more backstory – The previous SDOT director, Scott Kubly, left a year before Durkan announced she was hiring Zimbabwe. Kubly, also from D.C., had the SDOT job for three and a half years. Between the two, Goran Sparrman served as interim director, a role he also filled before the arrival of Kubly, succeeding Peter Hahn, who left toward the end of the McGinn administration.