OLYMPIA — Gov.-elect Jay Inslee has hired an Olympia head-hunting firm to find the best people to lead Washington’s top agencies in his administration.
Inslee has told all Gov. Chris Gregoire’s cabinet members that they will need to reapply for their jobs if they want to continue leading a state agency, The Olympian reported in Saturday’s newspaper.
In the meantime, Karras Consulting is posting ads seeking people to lead the Department of Transportation, the Department of Social and Health Services, Employment Security, Labor and Industries and other top state jobs.
This reflects the reality that “you have the opportunity at the beginning of an administration to make sure you have the absolute best person” in every agency, Inslee spokesman Sterling Clifford said.
So far, a few incumbents — including Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond — are asking to stay on.
“Paula submitted her rsum to the Inslee team and is interested in staying on as Transportation secretary and continuing to improve the state’s multimodal transportation system,” DOT spokesman Steve Pierce said in an email. “Paula is committed to addressing the challenges of insufficient funding over the next 10 years to maintain and preserve existing transportation assets around the state.”
Mike Armstrong, a Wenatchee Republican who worked for the Department of Transportation for 21 years and helped write the state’s transportation budget as a state legislator, may also be interested in the top DOT job.
Armstrong lost his bid for re-election to the House in November. He has told Inslee he is interested in the job and said he probably would apply.
“There are some things that need to have some special attention paid to them,” Armstrong said, citing concerns about the state ferry system and the planned replacements of the state Route 520 bridge over Lake Washington and the Columbia River Crossing on Interstate 5. “Having a fresh look and a new set of eyes might not be a bad idea.”
Armstrong supervised bridge crews at Transportation, then served 12 years in the House, eventually becoming the top Republican on the Transportation Committee. He helped Democratic Chairwoman Judy Clibborn write the budget that includes the department’s operations, and he said the bipartisan cooperation was unprecedented on that committee in recent years.
Some agency leaders have said they are leaving. Judy Schurke told Gregoire a few weeks ago she is leaving Labor and Industries, and DSHS Secretary Robin Arnold-Williams plans to go back to consulting and teaching at the University of Washington.
Another big void is being created at the Office of Financial Management where state budget director Stan Marshburn is retiring. His immediate predecessor, Marty Brown, left just a few months ago to direct the community college system.