After 16 years working for the city of Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray's chief of staff Mike Fong is leaving to join the King County executive office.
Dow Constantine's office announced Thursday that Fong will join the county's executive administration instead as his new chief operating officer starting in September.
Fong's first jobs at the city were serving as a legislative aide to council members Heidi Wills and Tom Rasmussen and eventually became a council central staffer. He joined Murray's team in 2014 as deputy director of the Office of Policy and Innovation, and was promoted as Murray's chief of staff two years ago.
“It has been an honor to serve in Mayor Murray’s administration as we have made incredible strides toward making Seattle a more equitable city that is open to everyone,” Fong said in a statement Thursday.
With just four months left for the administration, Murray is still facing some pressure to resign from some notable groups like the city's LGBTQ Commission over child rape allegations after another Seattle Times report published July 16. Council member Kshama Sawant in a guest editorial in The Stranger also urged the Seattle mayor to step down two weeks ago, but not much has changed since then besides creating a joint transition committee between the city council and mayor's office. (Sawant has had excused absences for a couple weeks.)
Murray and staffers were expecting another four years of his administration before Delvonn Heckard sued the mayor, alleging Murray sexually abused him starting when Heckard was 15 years old (in the 1980s). Murray dropped his re-election bid a month later.
Fong is the first mayoral staffer who has publicly announced post-Murray plans. Fred Kiga—chief of staff for former governor Gary Locke who also had senior positions at Amazon and Boeing—will replace Fong on September 5 for Murray's remaining months, with an annual salary of $181,301, according to the mayor's office.
“I am excited to join Mayor Murray’s team as we sprint through the finish line with major initiatives still in play this year,” Kiga said in a statement. “Seattle has thrived under Mayor Murray’s leadership and I look forward to continuing that work.”
Some assume former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan, the financial frontrunner in the mayor's race who cruised into the general election, would hire much of the same staff Murray had, given her close alliances with the mayor and her support for much of his policies. The question now is whether Fong's leaving is an indication a lot of Murray's staff may not wait to find out.
"While we are excited for Fred to come aboard, we will miss the steady leadership and wit Mike has brought to this office and to the city," Murray said in a statement. "Simply put, Seattle is a better place because of his service and he has been an invaluable part of my administration. I want to thank Mike and wish him well as he moves forward.”
The only other known change in staff in the past few months is replacing Office of Intergovernmental Relations deputy director Jasmin Weaver (who served under former mayor Mike McGinn as well), who left to join Nick Hanauer's Civic Ventures in May and gave her notice weeks earlier.
Updated August 11, 2017, at 9:08am: This post clarifies when Jasmin Weaver left.