PORT TOWNSEND — The town’s new public works director is a history enthusiast.
When Steve King visited Port Townsend to learn more about the area a few weeks ago, he stepped inside the Jefferson County Historical Society museum and watched a video about the town and how it was built.
Starting next month, King will be in charge of the city’s infrastructure as Port Townsend’s public works director.
King, 47, accepted the position this week and will start March 23. His starting salary will be about $135,000, he said.
“It’s a challenge, and it’s an opportunity,” King said. “Moving to a new community and getting learn about the community is a lot of fun.”
King was one of three finalists who met the public during an open house last week.
City Manager John Mauro said he stood out among the 45 candidates for the job.
“He’s fiercely dedicated to authentic public engagement, he has a track record of major collaborative accomplishments, he’s exceedingly intelligent yet admirably humble, and he has an infectious energy and enthusiasm that I know my team is eager and ready for,” Mauro said.
“I’m really excited to work with and learn from him myself, and for what he’ll contribute to the city team and to the wider community.”
King now works as the economic development director for the city of Wenatchee, where he’s spent the past 17 years in various roles. He grew up in Omak and has spent the past 22 years in the Wenatchee valley.
King said he’s working on a transportation grant and getting other work transferred to people within his department as he makes the transition.
“I’ll have five or six days between jobs, and I’ll come over on the weekends to see if I can find a place to live,” he said.
“I would prefer to be in the city, but I know housing is tight. If not in the city, then within a mile or two.”
King learned about the position in December, not long after former Public Works director Greg Lanning took a job with the state of Wyoming.
“I made a number of trips over to Port Townsend to try to learn about the area,” he said. “I stayed at bed and breakfasts, went downtown, talked to shop owners. I was just trying to explore the town.
“I learned enough to know I really like the area and I can see myself there.”
King is a municipal engineer who said he studied Western Washington stormwater during the course of graduate school at Washington State University.
As a private consultant prior to his work with Wenatchee, he was hired by various cities, counties and water districts, and he’s worked in city government on transportation, water, sewer and stormwater utilities, he said.
King’s position as economic development director has focused on project development with a focus on infrastructure “to try to shape the growth of our community the way the community wants it,” he said.
“Any time there’s an opportunity to meld ideas and perspectives, there’s an opportunity for good things to happen,” King said.
“I’m anxious to learn how Port Townsend differs, and how it’s similar.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].