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Mayor Murray outlines search for next SDOT Director

Click to take the survey
Click to take the survey

When outgoing Mayor Mike McGinn left office at the end of 2013, incoming Mayor Ed Murray sent SDOT Director Peter Hahn with him. Since then, Goran Sparrman has been acting as Interim Director with the Murray administration promising a nationwide search.

Well, the search is officially on, and the Mayor’s Office needs your input about what qualities are vital for Seattle’s next transportation leader.

One easy way to submit input is to complete this online survey. It’s open-ended and takes only five or ten minutes to complete.

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Aside from the obvious qualities like ability to effectively manage a large budget and staff, we are eager to see Seattle continue to innovate and lead the nation in prioritizing people using all modes of transportation. The next SDOT Director should be brave, willing to learn from examples of complete streets successes around the nation and globe and modify them to fit the needs of Seattle.

The Director should also be eager to maintain Seattle’s role as a major player in developing the nationally-used NACTO guides. The benefits of sharing safe, efficient street design knowledge and expertise across North America are immense for all cities involved. In fact, NACTO might be a good place to look for someone ready to take on the SDOT Director job.

Streets make up 27 percent of all land in Seattle, and the next Director must view streets at places, not merely pipes for cars. The next Director must be able to build popular trust in SDOT and have the courage to do the right thing even if there is some inevitable public backlash to change.

But the most important quality the next SDOT leader must have is complete dedication to the city’s stated top transportation priority: Safety. The city must make big changes to our transportation network if we are going to achieve our goal of zero annual traffic deaths by the year 2030. As the city continues to delay in putting its full force behind this goal, we are simply passing the buck to the families and friends of our neighbors who will face the devastation of losing someone in an entirely preventable traffic collision on our unnecessarily dangerous streets.

More details on the search, from the Mayor’s Office:

Mayor Murray today laid out his plan to conduct a national search to find an experienced, visionary, accountable executive to lead the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

“We’re looking for a leader who can develop a comprehensive strategy to harmonize the many transportation options available in our city,” Murray said. “As Seattle continues to grow, our multi-modal offerings must be coordinated with one another and with regional systems. We need to stay true to the goals of our City’s pedestrian, bicycle, transit and freight plans, but the larger goal is to integrate these modes to move people and goods seamlessly and efficiently.”

Similar to the process for identifying Seattle’s next Police Chief, the Mayor’s office is moving quickly to name a new Director of Transportation while allowing time to encourage and consider community input with the help of a Community Advisory Committee. The committee is co-chaired by Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl and former SDOT Director John Okamoto and is comprised of transportation experts with representatives from Transportation Choices Coalition, Feet First, Cascade Bicycle Club and WA Bus, among other organizations.

An eight-member Search Committee will then integrate those community perspectives into the search and will work with a firm to review applicants and present finalists to the Mayor for his consideration. The Search Committee is also co-chaired by Earl and Okamoto.

There are three ways the public can engage in this process beginning today:

  1. Community Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public.
  2. The Mayor’s Office is inviting the community to comment on desired qualities for the Transportation Director. Those community perspectives will be shared with the Advisory Committee for their review and consideration in creating selection criteria for the Search Committee. To participate, please visit http://murray.seattle.gov/sdotdirector to take a short survey which will be available until mid-April.
  3. The Mayor’s Neighborhood Summit, to be held April 5th at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall, will offer another opportunity to provide feedback. Learn more about the Summit at http://seattle.gov/sns2014.

By mid-April, the Community Advisory Committee will finalize their assessment criteria for use by the Search Committee. A national search will then commence. It’s expected that interviews will be conducted in late May with a decision by June.

For a list of Community Advisory Committee and Search Committee members, or to learn more about the process and participate in the feedback process, please visit http://murray.seattle.gov/sdotdirector.

The Director of Transportation reports to the Mayor and has management oversight of more than 750 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $400 million.

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8 responses to “Mayor Murray outlines search for next SDOT Director”

  1. Gary

    Well we can only hope that we get someone who realizes that auto traffic does not a city make. And one with the vision to restore the Waterfront street car, and finish out the Street car on Broadway to Aloha. And can deal with the people who complain about road diets.

  2. BallardCommuter

    Is Janette Sadik-Khan looking for a job?

    1. Andres Salomon

      That would be amazing.

    2. Kimberly Kinchen

      Unfortunately for Seattle and the U.S., JSK is working for Bloomberg’s new global urban consultancy.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        We can have dreams, can’t we? :-)

      2. Kimberly Kinchen

        Tom, you need a favorite function for the comments…

        My dream was that she’d run for Mayor of NYC after Bloomberg stepped down. Le sigh.

  3. Merlin

    Murray told a group of active transportation advocates that he had tried to hire JSK but she declined. This was during his second week in office. I was not there but have this from a Reliable Source.

  4. […] Berg took the Bellevue position after Goran Sparrman left in 2011. Sparrman is now the Interim Director at SDOT as Mayor Ed Murray’s office searches for a permanent Director. […]

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