Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan plans to hire a high-level point person to manage the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
“The Director of Recovery and Equitable Investment … will lead and coordinate citywide efforts related to economic and social recovery from the impacts of COVID-19,” according to an advertisement posted on Aug. 31.
The job is expected to last from 18 to 24 months, and the person selected will be paid $120,000 to $180,000 per year, according to the city’s ad.
The recovery director will serve in the mayor’s Cabinet, coordinating among departments on issues ranging from public health to homelessness, says the ad. The director also will head up a stakeholder panel with business, labor and community representatives.
The position will be in addition to Durkan’s three deputy mayors and her chief of staff.
“Seattle is facing three crises — a worsening pandemic, the largest financial downturn since the Great Depression and a movement to address systemic racism,” the ad says. “With this backdrop, the City is seeking an executive level leader to help the Mayor advance and achieve a post-COVID vision.”
Durkan and City Council members clashed this summer over how much to spend from emergency reserves on COVID-19 relief. They’re still debating a push by council members, amid Black Lives Matter protests, to start redirecting policing dollars to community-led initiatives and social services.
The mayor ordered a hiring freeze earlier this year, when city revenues were rocked by the economy’s plunge. That won’t apply to the new position.
“Hires within the City are still made on a case by case basis … depending on the operational needs,” said Durkan spokesperson Kamaria Hightower.
Though the recovery director will work in the mayor’s office, the salary will be covered by the city’s Finance and Administrative Services department, Hightower said. FAS will cover the salary within its existing budget, she said.
Departments across the city have cut expenses this year; the mayor’s office has allowed its communications director position to remain vacant since Ernesto Apreza departed in July, Hightower said.
The mayor hopes to hire a recovery director “in the coming months,” Hightower said. The new director will “ensure that recovery centers on communities of color, who have been most severely impacted by the pandemic,” she said.
“We are working with Diversity Recruiters,” a company led by people of color, “to deepen our applicant pool,” the spokesperson added.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee hired a former Navy vice admiral as his temporary COVID-19 czar in March to coordinate among hospitals.
Durkan hired a former Air Force major general in early 2019 to help manage traffic disruptions nicknamed the “Seattle Squeeze.” His departure came a year later, as council members raised questions about his work.