OLYMPIA — Washington State Parks Director Peter Mayer has resigned, according to a spokesperson, less than a year after he was appointed to lead the agency.
In a news release sent at 11:12 p.m. Wednesday, a spokesperson for the agency said Mayer had voluntarily submitted his resignation to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
Mayer’s resignation comes after the commission held a special meeting Wednesday afternoon regarding complaints brought against “a public officer or employee.”
“The purpose of this October 6 special meeting is for the Commission to receive and evaluate complaints brought against a public officer or employee, to determine if the Commission needs to prescribe additional measures — including whether the Commission should place the public officer or employee who is the subject of the complaints on home assignment and appoint an interim officer to carry out the duties of that position,” according to a copy of the meeting agenda.
The agenda didn’t specify the officer or employee who had been subject to any complaints. In Wednesday night’s news release, state Parks and Recreation Commission spokesperson Amanda McCarthy wrote that Mayer resigned voluntarily.
“Mayer’s decision to resign is based on the best interest of his family and he steps down as director to pursue other opportunities closer to his new home,” McCarthy wrote. “The commission appreciates Mayer’s service to Parks and the citizens of Washington.”
The agency Thursday also scrubbed Mayer’s photo and biography from where it appeared on the website earlier that day.
Mayer was appointed director in March with an annual salary of $165,840, and his resignation is effective Jan. 3.
The commission has appointed Peter Herzog, a current assistant director, as interim director, according to McCarthy, and “is actively working” to recruit a new director.
In a resignation letter provided by McCarthy, Mayer wrote that since March he had traveled to more than 90 parks across the state “and I’ve met and interacted with truly dedicated parks professionals who are eager to see the agency evolve.”
“In that vein, important organizational development and assessment work was initiated to help facilitate the agency’s transition and effectiveness in charting a more inclusive path forward,” Mayer wrote in the letter.
“Regrettably, I’ve determined that it’s in my and family’s best interest to pursue other opportunities that are closer to my new home in Issaquah, effective January 3, 2022,” he added.
Mayer wasn’t available Thursday, according to McCarthy, and couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Michael Latimer, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, likewise declined a request through McCarthy for an interview.
In an email, Tara Lee, spokesperson for Gov. Jay Inslee, said Mayer was appointed by the Parks and Recreation Commission and “the governor definitely did not ask him to step down.”
Asked whether any complaints had been filed against Mayer, Lee wrote that “our office has not seen anything around that.”
Washington State Parks oversees more than 100 developed parks and is one of the largest and most diverse systems in the nation, according to the commission’s Facebook page.