O'Brien May Seek Nickels' Sound Transit Seat

By Erica C. Barnett November 17, 2009

Incoming city council member Mike O'Brien may seek the seat on the Sound Transit board currently filled by Mayor Greg Nickels. According to multiple reports, Mayor-Elect Mike McGinn has said he will consider giving up that seat and supporting O'Brien for the board. (Traditionally, the mayor and one city council member from Seattle have served on the board, but that arrangement isn't required by law; city council president Richard Conlin plans to keep his seat).

O'Brien's financial experience may make him an attractive candidate to replace onetime Sound Transit budget chair Nickels: He spent a decade as chief financial officer for the law firm Stokes Lawrence (where McGinn was a partner) and has an MBA from the University of Washington. O'Brien says he hasn't talked to McGinn about the possibility of taking over Nickels' seat yet, but says that's definitely "a possibility."

McGinn staffer Aaron Pickus says McGinn would "like to see Mike O’Brien on the Sound Transit board because he knows transportation issues as much as anyone. Saying that, the mayor-elect thinks that the mayor of Seattle needs to serve on this board and plans to do so." That decision, too, is up to Constantine.

Several seats on the 18-member board will be changing hands this year, including the board seat currently held by King County Executive-Elect Dow Constantine, who—as the new County Exec—will choose his own replacement. (Constantine will be replacing County Exec Kurt Triplett on the Sound Transit board). In all, nine seats are up for appointment or reappointment.

Another ST board seat is being vacated by retiring Kirkland City Council Member Mary-Alice Burleigh. Constantine's office says he's likely to appoint someone from the Bellevue City Council to fill that seat, although he hasn't made any decisions yet. Two likely possibilities are Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger or Deputy Mayor Claudia Balducci, who both support light rail through downtown Bellevue.
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