Scott Kubly, who runs the Seattle Department of Transportation, is one of six finalists to be the city manager of Austin, Texas. Kubly’s status at SDOT has been tenuous since the election of Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has not committed to either retaining or replacing him.

Share story

Scott Kubly, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, is a finalist to become the city manager of Austin, Texas, according to a message from Austin’s mayor.

Kubly is one of six finalists, each of whom will be invited back for a second round of interviews for the open city manager position, according to a post on a city message board by Austin Mayor Steve Adler.

Interviews are scheduled for Dec. 3, the list of finalists will be narrowed to three on Dec. 7, and those candidates will go through another round of interviews on Dec. 11 and 12, Adler said.

The Austin American-Statesman sued the city of Austin last month after officials denied requests to disclose the finalists for the city manager position.

Through an SDOT spokeswoman, Kubly confirmed that he is a candidate for the Austin position but declined to comment further. Kubly spent his middle school and high school years in Austin and has a master’s degree from the University of Texas.

With oversight over the city’s streets and sidewalks, about 900 full-time employees and an annual budget of well over $400 million, SDOT is one of the most visible and most important departments in the city.

Former Mayor Ed Murray chose Kubly to lead SDOT in July 2014. Previously he’d served as deputy director of the Chicago Department of Transportation and as an associate director of the Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.

Kubly has spent his time at SDOT working to make Seattle an easier city for people to get around in without a car. He helped the passage of two major transportation levies, one to supply $45 million in annual increased bus service, and the 10-year, $930 million Move Seattle levy, to fund street and sidewalk improvements and safe streets and transit projects.

Seattle, during Kubly’s tenure, has seen continuing declines in rates of drive-alone commuters to booming downtown neighborhoods, with travelers increasingly turning to transit.

“The goal,” Kubly said earlier this year, “is all of the new growth being accommodated by modes other than driving.”

Known during his time in D.C. for his work on streetcar and bike share projects, Kubly led similar projects in Seattle. The city has launched construction on a new First Avenue streetcar to connect its two existing lines, in South Lake Union and on First Hill.

Kubly paid a $5,000 fine for failing to recuse himself on work related Pronto, Seattle’s since-shuttered bike share system. Kubly had previously been president of the private bike share company chosen to run Pronto in Seattle.

But since then, bike share has blossomed in Seattle, as Kubly’s department took a fairly laissez-faire approach to allowing private, stationless bike share companies on city streets.

Other finalists for the Austin city manager position include municipal officials from Minneapolis; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, as well as an executive for the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff and an attorney based in New York.

Kubly’s continued status at SDOT has been up in the air since Murray’s resignation. Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan has not committed to either retaining or replacing Kubly as the head of SDOT.

“SDOT is a very challenging entity to run; it’s got 1,000 employees,” Durkan said in an interview last month, before her election. “I have not reached any judgment on how Scott Kubly is doing.”