OLYMPIA — Kevin Quigley, the embattled and outspoken secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services, announced Tuesday he is resigning after three years on the job.
Quigley, a Lake Stevens resident, was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2013 to run one of the largest agencies in state government. He informed employees in an email that he will stay on the job until the governor hires his successor.
“It has been an exciting and profoundly important three years for me,” Quigley wrote. “It has also been exactly the kind of mission I had hoped for. And like any mission, it has a beginning and an end and I’ve decided that three years is the right measure for me.”
Quigley’s decision comes at a critical juncture for the department which is struggling to comply with a state law and federal mandate requiring Western State Hospital to cut down on long wait times for help restoring the competency of mentally ill inmates in county jails.
Last week, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Anita Farris ordered Quigley be subpoenaed to appear Thursday and explain to her how the department plans to comply. “The buck stops with Mr. Quigley,” Farris said.
The judge earlier this month said she would arrest state officials if they didn’t show up to explain why they continue to violate the law.
She pointed out that Quigley wrote a letter in November to staff saying that he was pausing efforts to open new competency beds because federal inspectors determined that the hospital didn’t have adequate personnel for its existing wards. Western is at risk of losing federal funding if it doesn’t improve safety and staffing.
Quigley wrote in the letter that his department should have taken more of a stand against judges who ordered the hospital to cut wait times. Pretrial defendants are waiting weeks and months in county and city jails for treatment.
Quigley, a former state lawmaker, was president of the Everett Shipyard which was acquired by Todd Shipyards, and in turn was purchased by Vigor Industrial.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org.