By Daniel Beekman
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle’s acting Parks Department superintendent is stepping down for health reasons and to make way for a new leader who will be hired after the city conducts a national search, Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday.
Murray said the search will be completed by January.
Christopher Williams, 50, who has served as acting superintendent for four years while battling cancer, will stay with the agency for now in his previous role as a deputy superintendent, the mayor said at a City Hall news conference.
Williams said he had considered stepping down last year, but decided to hang on as Murray and the City Council sought additional funding for parks in the form of a Metropolitan Park District.
The city’s voters approved a park district ballot measure earlier this month, and Williams now wants to prioritize his own health, he said.
“This is a seven-day-a-week job and it’s non-stop all the time,” he said of the superintendent post. “It’s not sustainable.”
Murray said the search for a Parks superintendent will mirror the processes that led to the selections this year of new Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and new Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly.
It will begin with community input, and a citizen group will vet candidates, the mayor said.
Murray thanked Williams for his service, saying he helped the Parks Department weather service and staff cuts that resulted from the Great Recession.
Carol Fisher, an activist who co-led a campaign against the parks district measure, said after Murray’s announcement the city should hire a superintendent with “fresh ideas” rather than someone determined to “make everyone happy.”