As we first reported two weeks ago—and continued to report the following week despite denials from his office—King County Executive Ron Sims is taking a job at HUD, the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. He is taking the No. 2 spot, Deputy Director.
Sims is holding a press conference at 10.
I'm in Olympia and can't be there, but will add more details soon.
Sims held his press conference on the packed first floor of the new County building, the Chinook Building in downtown Seattle.
He says he will not leave his job as KC Executive until he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his new job in DC, the Deputy Director of HUD.
Regarding his interim replacement at the County, he advised the Council to appoint a "caretaker" to fill the job until the November election when his term was up anyway. Sims says the caretaker should be someone who is "respected in the community" and someone who would not use the spot to run in November so there is an even playing field.
This certainly reads as a blocking move (or dis) on KC Council Member Larry Phillips who had both announced his intention to run ("against Sims") last week, and who has been jockeying for the five council votes to get the interim gig.
At HUD, Sims says he will be overseeing the day-to-day operations of the $39 billion, 8500-employee department. He will also oversee HUD's urban initiative to create more affordable housing. He said he will also be working with other agencies, like EPA, to up green building standards.
Asked about his accomplishments as KC Exec, Sims highlighted the County's Triple A bond rating and standing up for light rail.
Sims met with then-President Elect Obama in November in Chicago. Obama asked Sims if he would join the administration and they discussed several positions, including the spot at HUD. Sims told Obama, "No one is going to say no to the President."
Sims seems thrilled about the appointment and called it a "life opportunity."
Regarding Sims' suggestion that the Council appoint an interim Exec (who won't run in November) as a way to assure that the Council doesn't give someone—oh like KC Council Member Larry Phillips—a de facto advantage, KC Council Member Dow Constantine released this concurring statement:
“I will sit down immediately with my colleagues to create a non-partisan process to choose an interim replacement to serve the remainder of Executive Sims’ term.
“An ideal appointee would possess the necessary policy experience, political skills, and management ability to help guide King County through the next several months. We need an appointed executive who can devote his or her full attention and talents to the unprecedented financial challenges facing King County.
“It is the voters of King County—not this Council—who this November will select an Executive to serve them for the next four years.”
I have called Phillips' office to get his reaction to Sims' call for an interim caretaker.