A Sound Transit bus in the shadow of the Northgate Link light rail station in Seattle. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

A Sound Transit bus in the shadow of the Northgate Link light rail station in Seattle. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Sound Transit panel picks new CEO but won’t say who it is

Of three finalists, the selection committee tapped “Candidate A.” The full board will make a final decision later this month.

SEATTLE — Sound Transit directors decided Thursday whom they want as the next leader of the regional transit agency. But they’re keeping the name secret for now.

The eight-member CEO Selection Committee voted to recommend hiring a person identified as “Candidate A.” The recommendation will go to the full Sound Transit Board of Directors for action June 23.

Committee members, including Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, acted after a 90-minute closed session during which they considered the qualifications of three finalists.

“I think we’re in good hands going forward,” said Somers, who lauded all three finalists as capable of leading the agency.

The next CEO’s identity will be announced before the final vote.

“The recommended candidate will be named in a news release ahead of the June 23 meeting,” Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick said in an email. Provisions of the proposed contract will be summarized in the motion the board will consider, and that should be available in advance, as well.

Whomever is hired will succeed Peter Rogoff, whose six-year tenure as chief executive officer ended Tuesday.

Under Rogoff’s leadership, light rail has spread north, south and east through the Seattle metropolitan area. And voters, through passage of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, approved higher taxes to fund expansion of bus rapid transit and extension of light rail service to Everett and Tacoma.

Rogoff and the board agreed in September he would depart when his contract ended.

Ninety people applied for the job, of whom 48 met the minimum qualifications and 14 were deemed highly qualified, board chair Kent Keel said at the meeting. Of the three finalists, two identified as diversity candidates, he said.

On Tuesday, each finalist was in Seattle to meet in person with panels of stakeholders, including leaders of local jurisdictions and advocacy groups as well as Sound Transit employees and administrators.

In all, 48 people took part and, as part of the process, signed non-disclosure agreements barring them from revealing the names of finalists. That prohibition will remain in effect unless and until Sound Transit revokes it in writing.

From the outset, Sound Transit promised confidentiality to all applicants.

On Thursday, Somers asked at the beginning of the meeting if there would be a public announcement following the vote.

Keel, a University Place council member, said at some point the name would be public. “We’re not at that point yet,” he said.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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