Seattle City Light CEO appointment moves forward

This morning, the City Council finished up its interview of Debra Smith, who is Mayor Durkan’s nomination for CEO of Seattle City Light. After deliberations and a public hearing, they voted to pass the nomination out of committee, setting it up for final approval on October 1.

The Council is taking an extra week before its final vote, to allow time for environmental advocates to finish their own discussions with Smith. They are particularly interested in her position on dam removals on rivers in the Pacific Northwest; in public comment today they did not offer an opinion on Smith’s appointment, but said that they wanted to finish talking with her and asked the Council to delay their vote to allow that to happen.

Earlier this week, Smith delivered the completed second half of the questionnaire the Council ask her to answer. In total, she answered 34 written questions from the Council on a wide range of topics. Several questions related to environmental issues; others related to workplace culture at Seattle City Light, customer service and billing issues, and the financial challenges facing the utility in the years to come.

Notably absent from the two committee hearings has been Council member Sawant. During the committee hearings for former SCL CEO Larry Weis, Sawant raised concerns about his high salary, an issue that she said contributed to her voting against confirming him. Assuming Smith is confirmed, her starting salary will be $340,000, identical to Weis’s starting salary.

The full Council will vote on final approval of Smith’s appointment at its meeting on October 1.