Seattle’s housing director will leave City Hall amid a shake-up in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration that could also include a former parks boss returning to his old job.

Steve Walker will vacate his Seattle Office of Housing post in July, Durkan announced Thursday, and the mayor is nominating Jesús Aguirre as Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent. Aguirre served in that role from 2015 until January 2018.

Walker’s exit could signal a changing approach to housing as Durkan seeks to make her mark on what many residents consider the city’s most urgent issue. The mayor has yet to name a replacement.

An Ed Murray appointee known as a capable technocrat, Walker has led the Office of Housing since 2014. He helped persuade voters in 2016 to double the city’s housing levy, and his team has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to low-income housing projects.

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Durkan has brought her own ideas to City Hall, adding homeless-shelter beds and convening a new advisory council to work on housing for middle-income households. In a news release Thursday, the mayor didn’t describe why exactly Walker would be leaving. A Durkan spokesman said Walker had submitted a resignation letter.

“I am grateful to Steve for his years of service to Seattle,” the mayor said. “Under his leadership, the Office of Housing has forged strong community partnerships and has worked to build housing in every part of the city.”


Walker declined to comment. He’s sought to advance equity in Seattle by funding low-income housing in both wealthy and gentrifying neighborhoods, Office of Housing spokeswoman Robin Koskey said in a statement. “That work will continue,” she said.

Walker previously spent 17 years at the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. Before that, he worked on housing at the city.

“He’s been a very effective housing director,” said Bill Rumpf, executive director of the nonprofit Mercy Housing. “Steve has a lot of technical and relationship expertise. I hope the city can find someone else with his skills.”

“He’s an incredibly good public servant who’s been really dedicated to highly vulnerable people,” added Daniel Malone, executive director of the nonprofit Downtown Emergency Service Center.

Aguirre led Washington, D.C.’s education and parks departments before his appointment by Murray to head Seattle’s parks department. Shortly after Durkan won election, he left City Hall to join his family’s construction business.

Christopher Williams has been serving as Seattle’s interim parks director.

The mayor Thursday also announced her nominations of Bobby Lee as Office of Economic Development director and Amarah Khan as Office of the Employee Ombud director.


Lee is currently Portland’s economic-development director, while Khan is director of equity and inclusive practices at the Renton School District.

Karl Stickel has been serving as interim economic-development director.

Created last year, the Office of the Employee Ombud is supposed to support city employees who encounter workplace misconduct and harassment.

The City Council will review in the coming weeks whether to confirm Durkan’s nominees.