About that other high-profile city job opening

Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s announcement today of the search process for a new police chief had one WSB commenter wondering what’s up with the search for a new SDOT director. So we asked mayoral spokesperson Jamie Housen. His reply tonight: “We should have some news to announce on the SDOT front soon around the search process, which will be a robust national search and include community input and stakeholder engagement.” When Harrell announced previous SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe‘s departure three and a half months ago, he elevated SDOT chief of staff Kristen Simpson to interim director, but said she wouldn’t be applying for the permanent job. We also asked Housen if the mayor had visited the West Seattle Bridge yet, since those weekly progress-report documents we’ve been getting (on a 4-week delay via public-disclosure request) mentioned it. Housen said, “The mayor’s schedule hasn’t aligned for a site visit to the bridge yet, but it is something we are hoping to get on the calendar, as the bridge’s repair and reopening remains one of the administration’s highest priorities.” P.S. Former SDOT director Zimbabwe, who lives in West Seattle, just started a new job in the private sector, with the design-consulting firm Kimley-Horn.

6 Replies to "About that other high-profile city job opening"

  • Mj April 1, 2022 (9:30 am)

    It would be nice to see the City higher a PE with expertise in Transportation Engineering.  It’s frustrating that SDoT continues to ignore Traffic Engineering Science that I understand is supposed to be the basis for decision making.

    • Reed April 1, 2022 (6:21 pm)

      Step up MJ, this is your chance!

  • Matt April 1, 2022 (3:03 pm)

    Completely agree! I support mass transit and bike/pedestrian improvements. But many of the designs SDOT rolls out don’t seem efficient for either group. Slower, yes but not safer and more efficient.

  • KT April 2, 2022 (11:46 am)

    “We should have some news to announce on the SDOT front soon around the search process, which will be a robust national search and include community input and stakeholder engagement.”   Three-and-a-half months since Zimbabwe departed and this is where we are?  And here I thought (or hopped) Harrell would be different.

    • K April 2, 2022 (12:50 pm)

      Harrell is the exact same now as he was his 12 years on city council.  Not sure why anyone thought something changed in the ~2 years he was out of office.  No matter how robust their national search might be, I cannot imagine anyone with top qualifications being interested in a job where they’ll be blamed for every ill in the city, crucified for not paying enough attention to X mode of transportation, then jettisoned at the end of the mayor’s term so that the next one can claim they’re going to “change” things while doing nothing of the sort.  Why would ANYONE sign up for such a thankless and temporary gig after seeing what has happened to their predecessors?  Best of luck to whatever sucker signs up for the job next.

  • Colonel Mustard's Wrench April 3, 2022 (8:36 am)

    City Departments need to demand a level of excellence in their staff.  That starts at the top.  There needs to be more accountability for the responsibilities employees are supposed to be meeting. 
    The new head of SDOT needs to make it clear to managers and supervisors that they will be held responsible for their assignments. 
    It has never been made clear who specifically at SDOT was responsible for the maintenance of the WS Bridge.  Whoever that was, failed to have the bearings replaced at the 30 year mark. 
    Speaking with industry experts, bearing replacement at the 30 year mark is the industry standard. 
    I am confident that at completion of construction, SDOT engineers knew the 30 year timeline on the bearings. 
    So –  did SDOT fail to retain this institutional knowledge as retirements happened ? 
    It appears they either lost their institutional knowledge and/or their engineering staff just don’t properly inform themselves. 
    Such a costly error.  People have lost their businesses and there have been thousands of collective needless additional transportation hours.
    Sam deserved to lose his job.  I hope as long as he lives in W Seattle, every time that he has to leave the West Seattle peninisula, he has to drive around and take the First Avenue Bridge.
    My ideal next leader of SDOT would be knowledgeable and detail oriented, creating a culture of excellence and accountability at SDOT.

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