Mayor Jenny Durkan retained Anne Fennessy, of public affairs firm Cocker Fennessy, to represent the City of Seattle in planning for the final alignment of ST3’s West Seattle and Ballard Link segments. Durkan’s office also told STB that the search for a new, permanent SDOT director is “underway,” started “earlier this fall,” and that the hire should be announced soon.
Durkan spokesperson Chelsea Kellogg says that the search is similarly to the recruitment of new City Light CEO Debra Smith, who was hired in April:
“National search conducted, employee review panel interviews candidates, senior leadership from other departments interview candidates. The Search Committee then reviews candidates resumes and interviews the candidates which has already taken place. The next step is interviews with the Mayor, which are happening this month.”
As Erica Barnett reported, Fennessy has a long relationship with Sound Transit, and will have a broad portfolio:
In addition to serving as Sound Transit’s sole point of contact at the city, Fennessy’s role will include coordinating technical input on everything from “land use/zoning, traffic/parking [and] parks/open space” to “utility, roadway/traffic, drainage, structural/building, fire/life safety, construction staging, property acquisition/right-of-way vacation,” according to the agreement.
The designated representative is also charged with assembling and overseeing the city’s project development team, a task that was also supposed to be complete, according to the agreement, by January of this year. [Sound Transit] did not know whether the city had put together a project team.
Cocker Fennessy also worked on the controversial streetcar audit, and the mayor’s audit of SDOT earlier in the year. (Disclosure: I briefly worked as a contractor for Cocker Fennessy.)
Fennessy’s SDOT work presumably aligned with interim SDOT Director Goran Sparmann’s organizational restructuring:
“Former Director Goran oversaw an SDOT reorganization in May to address some structural issues,” Kellogg says, “and led a review to make a recommendation to the Mayor on the leadership SDOT needs to deliver on its projects, both the major investments and the basics.”
I wrote yesterday that Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plans for transit and transportation were opaque, and the city’s transportation leadership was in limbo, with long delays in hiring. That’s still true, but the news about these hirings means that, soon, the City will have transportation leaders in place.