As King County Councilmembers jockey for Ron Sims’ upcoming vacating of his King County Executive seat, the council itself released information today about creating a “blue-ribbon committee” to evaluate prospective candidates for his position:

Blue-Ribbon Committee to evaluate prospective appointees for King County Executive
Transparent process engages citizens in decision to be made by County Council

A blue-ribbon committee of citizens and county elected officials will help evaluate candidates for appointment should a vacancy occur in the office of King County Executive, under legislation adopted today by the Metropolitan King County Council.

“We need an open and transparent process to review candidates for interim executive,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague, sponsor of the motion. “This panel will thoroughly evaluate each candidate and provide the Council with valuable recommendations. This will ultimately help us to choose the best person to manage county government free of politics.”

“We must move quickly once a vacancy occurs to appoint an interim executive to guide King County during this critical year,” said Council Chair Dow Constantine, co-sponsor of the motion. “Working together, we have crafted an open, transparent selection process that will provide Councilmembers with extensive information on the top candidates for the position.”

County Executive Ron Sims on February 2 announced he has been nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Administration. Upon his confirmation and resignation from office, the King County Council under the County Charter will appoint an executive to serve in office until the next general election in November.

Chairing the Blue-Ribbon Committee are former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice and Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke. The bipartisan citizen members of the committee represent the economic, geographic and ethnic diversity of the county:

  • Becky Cox,
  • Joan Crooks,
  • Adrian Diaz,
  • David Freiboth,
  • Beretta Gomillion,
  • Nancy Hutto,
  • Sharon Maeda,
  • Ted Choi Tam,
  • Bob Wallace, and
  • Tayloe Washburn.

The panel will also include the four separately elected officials in the County’s criminal justice and public safety systems:

  • King County Sheriff Sue Rahr,
  • King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg,
  • King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Bruce Hilyer, and
  • King County District Court Presiding Judge Barbara Linde.

Under the fast track established by the legislation, each member of the County Council may nominate no more than two candidates within three days, by Thursday, April 9. Candidates named by at least three Councilmembers may submit a resume, supporting documentation, and three references directly to the Clerk of the Council.

Within one week of a vacancy actually occurring in the Executive’s office, the Blue Ribbon Committee will meet to interview candidates and forward to the Council its top two to five recommendations. Because of the Municipal League of King County’s long record of reviewing candidates for election, the legislation encourages the League to also review the candidates and forward any recommendations to the Council.

Under the County Charter, final authority to make the appointment rests with the County Council.

The criteria for evaluation of candidates will include:

  • Knowledge of the functions of King County government;
  • Knowledge of the issues and challenges facing King County government;
  • A demonstrated ability to develop a responsible budget;
  • A demonstrated ability to respond to public concerns;
  • Demonstrated leadership skills;
  • A commitment to the immediate business of King County that would make it unlikely that the appointee would run for any elective office while serving under this appointment;
  • A commitment to maintaining the functions and structure of County government without disruption during the election of a new County Executive; and
  • Demonstrated skills in pursuing a legislative agenda at the local, state and federal level.

Immediately upon a vacancy in the County Executive’s office, the Executive has designated his Chief of Staff, Kurt Triplett, to serve as interim County Executive to perform all necessary duties and continue normal office operations until the Council has an opportunity to appoint the new officeholder. The appointee will serve as King County Executive until the results of the November general election are certified.

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