LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit CEO leaving after less than a year and a half

As light-rail planning for West Seattle approaches a key point, Sound Transit will be changing leadership again. 15 months after starting as CEO, Julie Timm announced she’s leaving the $375,000/year job “in order to return to the East Coast to take care of family matters.” That’s according to an ST news release that says her last day will be January 12th, one month from today. The ST board will appoint an interim CEO “in the weeks ahead.” Their next meeting had been scheduled to include Timm’s performance rating and bonus, according to agenda documents. Before Timm, Peter Rogoff was CEO for more than six years. Around the middle of next year, the board is supposed to get the final Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle Link Extension, after which the final routing (alignment) will be decided. There also will be some board changes early next year, since some of its current members are leaving, including West Seattle-residing County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who didn’t run for re-election.

33 Replies to "LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit CEO leaving after less than a year and a half"

  • WSderp December 12, 2023 (8:21 pm)

    Sounds like a case of, “you can’t fire me because I quit!”

    • Peter December 13, 2023 (8:16 am)

      What’s your basis for that claim?

  • John December 12, 2023 (9:13 pm)

    Like the song by Steve Miller:

    Go on take the money and run.

  • The King December 12, 2023 (10:45 pm)

    I still think those should be elected positions. Taxpayers shelling out billions to an entity with zero oversight? This ceo leaving makes more than the Vice President of the U.S. 

    • K December 13, 2023 (7:35 am)

      Most of the board is there by virtue of their elected office, so there is taxpayer oversight there.  And if you want to talk about throwing tons of money at people with no accountability, wait until you hear about all of the “consulting” jobs Harrell has created and granted people who are just sneaking under the $185,000 salary that requires it to be bid out to hire instead of Harrell just looking to his friends.  When did you ever hear about all the great work Harrell’s niece was doing with her 6-figure salary as deputy mayor?  Sound Transit does has not cornered the market on bringing people in with big salaries and no accountability.

    • Peter December 13, 2023 (8:19 am)

      Your claim of zero oversight is a lie. The Sound Transit board is entirely made up of elected officials. Sound Transit, like all government agencies in Washington State, is subject to regular and rigorous audits, as required by state law.  

      • Canton December 14, 2023 (6:47 am)

        “rigorous audits”; ha ha ha ha, that’s a good one. How about the $858 thousand they spent on a station opening party?

    • DC December 13, 2023 (8:54 am)

      The problem with ST is not the CEO, its the politicians sitting on the board. The bring no expertise to the job and it’s barely an after thought for them with all their other responsibilities. Yet even technical issues have to be decided by them. Its the board who should be directly elected to the positions on a full time basis. 

  • Rhonda December 13, 2023 (12:13 am)

    Walk of shame.

    • Alki resident December 13, 2023 (9:08 am)

      Making family a priority isn’t shame. Maybe for you but not for many of us. 

  • Al King December 13, 2023 (6:47 am)

     As long as light rail at any cost proponents are handing out blank checks to everyone nobody should be surprised. 

  • Joan December 13, 2023 (7:08 am)

    I cannot believe that salary!!!!!!!! That’s obscene. Maybe I’m naive. I have no idea what people make. I only know that people in nonprofits working for good causes barely make a living.

    • James December 13, 2023 (11:07 am)

      Tech salaries around around 400-500k with ten years experience. This is less than that so it makes sense to me. Salaries like this are not obscene and if you make that much less, it’s time to pressure for a raise. You’re underpaid likely. 

      • Zac Saffron December 14, 2023 (10:30 pm)

        400k to punch computer keys is obscene

        • max34 December 15, 2023 (11:09 am)

          how do you think your obscene comments get into the world within a few seconds zac ? also, 95% of tech folks arent making that, or anything close to it for their base.  its rare for even the most senior tech person to make over 200K.  most of their comp is tied up in RSUs (stock) which are linked to service years (you are forced to stay X-number of years before they vest) and the whims of the market.  375K to run the 10th busiest transit system in the country and one with the largest (by far) expansion program in progress, is likely underpaid compared to random bros on wall st or big law flunkies who provide nothing of real value for anyone.    an 8th year associate in biglaw easily clears half a million.  what we “value” in society is upside down in so many professions.  

  • Nate H. December 13, 2023 (7:53 am)

    More than half a million dollars for doing effectively nothing for 18 months, all completely unaccountable and with no responsibility for accomplishing anything?  Sign me up!

  • snowskier December 13, 2023 (8:54 am)

    Looks like Dow and the ST board did a great job hiring the CEO.  Maybe instead of a ‘national search’ they can find someone locally who knows the area and culture and won’t be stressed by a cross country move.

    • Niko December 14, 2023 (12:40 pm)

      Or maybe we could just defund sound transit and put an end to this absolute waste of money once and for all

  • K December 13, 2023 (9:41 am)

    These are some crummy comments from people about a woman who is moving across the country to care for her family. 

  • James December 13, 2023 (9:45 am)

    Can the next CEO get moving on West Seattle lightrail already! I want trains!

    • Alki resident December 13, 2023 (11:16 am)

      Trains in WS will disrupt businesses and people in their homes that have established relationships with neighbors. My friends live right off of Avalon and their entire neighborhood would be demolished. They’re making memories in their home with their children and the neighborhood children. Metro works fine, use it. 

      • Jeff December 13, 2023 (2:48 pm)

        It will expand businesses tenfold like it did in Roosevelt. The temporary closings mean nothing compared to lifetime of thriving upzone business potential.  I feel bad for the few that lose a home but they will be offered over MARKET value for their home. The many get to benefit over the few. Metro uses roads with a bunch of polluting and dangerous-driver vehicles. No, I prefer a track with no traffic going to dense neighborhoods and using Metro to supplement that. West Seattle cannot keep relying on cars and busses and that bridge that keeps cracking.

        • sharon J PRICE December 14, 2023 (8:54 am)

          I disagree with “offered over market value” for those of us who will lose our homes. I talked with a realtor they hired and he said with eminent domain they don’t have to give me money for the value of the waterfront view we have looking over the bridge, just the no. of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage! 

          • Sandy December 14, 2023 (1:38 pm)

            Absolutely not true, that stuff is factored into your tax assessment and that’s where the value comes from. 

      • Seth December 13, 2023 (4:00 pm)

        I live in a house slated for eminant domain to make room for the light rail. I say bring on the trains.

      • Dan Lee December 13, 2023 (4:07 pm)

        Everything disrupts everything all the time. Never do anything ever I guess? Guess we should’ve just let the West Seattle Bridge collapse too. There are people who will benefit far more, create amazing memories, and contribute to the community and businesses to ever greater degree than before, who’s dreams and visions are anchored by West Seattle having decent transit. Crying about ST3 while West Seattle Bridge and HWY 509 are right there, with all their colossal cost and impact is laughable. People who never ride transit seem to love buses, because that’s about as far as they can push to abolish all transit. The best transit isn’t the cheapest one. The best transit is the one with the best reliability, frequency, connectivity, and long term operational cost. And light rail blows busses out of water. True BRT might come close, but for true BRT you’ll need almost as much infrastructure as Link anyway. So why halfass something that’ll define the area for the next century?

        • Scarlett December 13, 2023 (7:56 pm)

          Bus transit is vastly more flexible, more capable of handling overflow ridership, more capable of canvassing a neighborhood with more stops, and it uses infrastructure that is already in place.  You’re calling for permanent rails that won’t be completed until a decade from now when you already have the proven flexibility and proven efficacy of wonderful bus transit – bus transit that can easily be upgraded.  It’s won’t take an appreciable number of cars off the road, it won’t improved access to public transportation.  To that point, how do people who live outside a reasonable walking radius get to a station?  Another bus? I’ll speak for myself, as someone who has ridden buses all my life, this segment makes no sense whatsoever.   

          • CAM December 13, 2023 (10:28 pm)

            Scarlett I honestly don’t believe you’re going to do anything in response to this than say that I’m delusional and insult me in other ways but here goes. I grew up somewhere with a fully realized mass transit system, what Seattle is attempting to develop now that it should have developed decades ago. When presented with the option to get from point A to point B everyone in that city would opt to take a train over a bus. You took the bus to get to the train. It’s that simple. It’s highly functional, reliable, removes delays, removes problems caused by passenger vehicles and pedestrians clogging the road, and runs on schedule more frequently than any bus ever will in all kinds of weather. Buses are nice for right now and we need them and we will continue needing them even when trains are everywhere in Seattle. But they cannot ever compete with what a commuter rail system can offer. 

    • West Marge December 13, 2023 (4:45 pm)

      I know that trains make cool noises and stuff, but this is not the trains we voted for, and this is not the plan that will make the difference you think they will.  Please take the time to read over the points reported in the listed blog posts. This one, for instance:

      • Derek December 14, 2023 (5:10 am)

        Why do you guys keep posting this nonsense? This is Gondola rebrand 

  • Marie December 17, 2023 (11:53 am)

    According to a couple of commenters on the story about her departure in the Seattle Times, she and Dow got into an argument over WS Light Rail. He is determined to have it. She pointed out that it makes no sense economically. Does anyone know if there is any truth to this story?

    • CAM December 18, 2023 (9:02 pm)

      Describe what you mean to me by “makes no sense economically.” Are you suggesting that the government is a money making enterprise that is expecting to turn a profit? What do you think the point of any public transit system is? To make money or to provide a means of transit for the citizens that pay for it? I have no idea what any ST commenter is talking about or the comments you are referencing but if the head of any public transit agency is more concerned with economics and profit than providing a robust public transit service they should look for other employment. Possibly in a for profit industry. 

  • Scarlett December 17, 2023 (1:26 pm)

    Of course this extesnion makes no sense economically nor from a public transportation standpoint.  In terms of added value to our public transportation it is largely symbolic window dressing.   But there is too much big money lined up to push this project through and anyone who gets in the way  has to go.  Welcome to the real world. 

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