Hammond short-listed for interim executive position

Enumclaw’s Steve Hammond admits he has politics in his blood.

Enumclaw’s Steve Hammond admits he has politics in his blood.

The rural resident, church pastor, former King County councilman and current county employee finds himself on a short list of candidates to fill – on an interim basis only – the coming vacancy as King County executive.

Four names were recently submitted for evaluation by a special committee.

“We’ve generated a strong field of candidates for interim executive from across the county, each with significant support from individual council members,” Council Chairman Dow Constantine said. “The Blue Ribbon Committee will provide an expedited but thorough review of these candidates to aid the council in making its final choice.”

Under legislation adopted April 6, each candidate for executive had to be nominated by at least three current councilmembers in order to be forwarded to the Blue-Ribbon Committee. Hammond said he was supported by Pete von Reichbauer, Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert.

Others being considered are former County Councilwoman Louise Miller, former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer and current King County Executive Chief of Staff Kurt Triplett.

Current Executive Ron Sims appears headed for Washington, D.C. On Feb. 2, he announced he had 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 will appoint an executive to serve until the next general election in November.

Within one week of a vacancy actually occurring, the Blue Ribbon Committee will meet to interview candidates and forward to the council its top two to four recommendations. The committee is chaired by former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice and Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, with bipartisan membership representing the economic, geographic and ethnic diversity of the county.

The committee’s criteria for evaluation of candidates will include knowledge of the functions of county government as well as the issues and challenges facing the county; an ability to develop a responsible budget; an ability to respond to public concerns and demonstrated leadership skills.

Hammond feels he’s the man for the job.

“It’s a job that I can do,” he said. “And I certainly have a knowledge of the inner workings of county government.”

Hammond was appointed to the Metropolitan King County Council in June 2003, following the death of Councilman Kent Pullen. He lost a bid to retain a council seat in 2005.

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.

Whoever is appointed will serve as King County executive until the results of the November general election are certified.

One certainty is that Hammond will not seek the permanent job if appointed on an interim basis. The council has make it clear a short-term caretaker is desired and Hammond said he has committed to the goal of “holding the helm steady until November.”

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