EVERETT — Snohomish County Councilman Terry Ryan is resigning to join the administration of County Executive Dave Somers as the go-to guy on growing the aerospace industry.
Ryan, a Mill Creek Democrat, will join Somers’ staff Monday as the county’s first-ever director of aerospace economic development. His chief focus will be on building and diversifying the county’s aerospace sector, a $60 billion piston of economic power, much of it pumping from companies at Paine Field.
“I love economic development. I love the airport,” said Ryan, who will leave office Sunday. “All my years of business experience building customer relationships and my tenure in elected leadership have prepared me for this.”
Ryan, 62, is midway through his second council term after spending 17 years as an elected Mill Creek City Council member.
He worked in sales and marketing and commercial real estate before joining the county council in 2014.
He and Somers, also a Democrat, served together on the council in 2014 and 2015. They were political allies on many issues and their close working relationship has continued with Somers as executive.
The two first talked about the job around Christmas. Somers said Ryan had the blend of skills he sought — business experience, knowledge of county government and extensive relationships in the public and private sectors.
Ryan has just completed a two-year stint as president of the economic development board for the Puget Sound Regional Council. He’s also active with Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Greater Seattle Partners and the tourism committee for the county council.
“He knows the economic development world and he’s really excited about doing this,” Somers said. “With aerospace at Paine Field representing almost $60 billion in economic impact to Snohomish County, it is vital that we have someone who can focus 100% of their time and energy on this critical sector and will understand its needs.”
Ryan said he took the job “because I get to concentrate on something that is very important to me.”
”I want to bring more businesses and more jobs to Snohomish County,” he said. “I want our residents to be able to work where they live.”
Ryan will be the county’s first aerospace economic development director. The County Council created the position in this year’s budget. He will earn nearly $180,000, a step up from a council salary of roughly $127,000.
This is the second time Somers has hired a sitting county councilmember into his administration.
In 2016, he tapped Ken Klein, an Arlington Republican, to become executive director in charge of county technology needs and other initiatives.
In keeping with the county charter, Snohomish County Democrats will nominate three people for the District 4 seat after Ryan departs. The appointment will be made by the remaining council members.
Stephanie Vignal, a Mill Creek City Council member, will seek the appointment, according to Hillary Moralez, chairwoman of the Snohomish County Democratic Party.
Vignal was appointed to the city council a year ago to fill the vacancy created when Jared Mead won a seat in the state House of Representatives. In November, she ran unopposed to keep the seat.
District 4 spans suburban areas, mostly east of I-5, and includes Mill Creek, Brier, Mountlake Terrace and part of Bothell, along with unincorporated areas such as Silver Firs and Thrashers Corner.