Outgoing Seattle City Councilwoman Sally Clark has taken a job at the University of Washington.
Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark has landed a job with the University of Washington, and will resign from the council effective April 12.
Clark has been appointed director of regional and community relations at the UW, a job that will begin in May. She will be paid $155,000 a year.
The 48-year-old has been on the City Council for nearly a decade, and announced in February that she would not seek re-election. Her term runs through the end of the year.
In an interview Thursday, she said making the decision to resign was “really hard.”
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“In the employment variation on Murphy’s Law, the greatest opportunities never come along at the perfect time. I can’t let this pitch go by,” Clark said in a statement. “Working on behalf of Seattle at City Council has been my best job ever for just over nine years and now I’m going to work on behalf of the difference a UW education can make in the life of individuals and our greater community.”
Council President Tim Burgess said he expects to have a new council member in place within 20 days of Clark’s departure, to complete her term. Applications will be taken through April 14, with an appointment made April 27, Burgess said in a statement.
Four people have registered campaigns for the citywide position Clark initially sought: Lorena Gonzalez, Bill Bradburd, James Keblas and Terry Hofman.
If the council were to appoint a candidate, that person would gain a leg up in the race for a permanent spot.
But Burgess, in his statement, said, “I believe we should appoint an experienced ‘caretaker’ who pledges not to seek election to the council this year.”
Gonzalez, who stepped down as Mayor Ed Murray’s legal counsel in order to pursue a council seat, said Thursday she won’t apply to replace Clark on an interim basis.
“My understanding is that the council is seeking a placeholder and a caretaker,” she said. “I’m committed to my campaign and I’m intent on being more than just a placeholder.”
Keblas, a former director of the Seattle Office of Film + Music didn’t return a call for comment.
Bradburd, a neighborhood activist, said he will likely throw his hat in the ring for the vacancy but likely will also continue to campaign, despite Burgess’s statement.
Hofman, owner of Madison Park Bakery, said he won’t apply.
Christian Sinderman, a political consultant for several council candidates, including Gonzalez, said he hadn’t yet heard any names floated for the temporary post.
Clark herself initially joined the council when she was appointed in 2006 to replace Jim Compton.
“There’s an open process. No one would have predicted Sally Clark 10 years ago,” Sinderman said. “Usually a request for a caretaker attracts certain types of applicants –- someone looking to do community service, someone looking for a capstone for their career, someone looking to circulate their name ahead of a future run for office.”
The timing of the resignation isn’t good from a lawmaking perspective. The council is working on several important issues related to affordable housing and homelessness, and Clark chairs the council’s housing committee.
Murray has a Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee scheduled to make policy recommendations to him and the council in May.
At the UW, Clark will be charged with leading the university’s effort to link with surrounding neighborhoods, civic groups and local government.
Clark “brings a wealth of leadership experience to the office not only from her time on the Seattle City Council, but also in her neighborhood and economic development work,” said Randy Hodgins, UW vice president for external affairs, in a statement.
The city’s ethics code prohibits employees, for a year after leaving, from lobbying the city. But there’s an exception when the person’s new employer is another governmental agency, like the UW.
When Clark asked Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission Executive Director Wayne Barnett for advice about a week ago after interviewing at UW, he advised her to stop taking part in UW matters at City Hall, she and Barnett said Thursday.
The UW is part of a group currently lobbying the council on controversial legislation that would expand the University District’s Business Improvement District, but Clark has not taken part in any recent meetings on the issue, she said.
A UW representative said the local group hasn’t met with Clark as part of its recent lobbying effort.