Mayor Murray nominates Jesús Aguirre to lead parks department

Mayor Murray today nominated Jesús Aguirre to lead Seattle Parks and Recreation as superintendent.

Aguirre has a diverse set of experiences from working as an educator, parks director and – most recently – as State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. He was selected after a national search.

“This is a pivotal moment for Seattle’s parks,” Murray said. “Seattle is a thriving city growing at a tremendous pace, and we must ensure that the services provided by Parks and Recreation support the increasing and evolving needs and interests of all our residents. Jesús’s leadership will be vital to activating our parks system, improving infrastructure, and securing the future of our parks for generations,” Murray said.

Aguirre turned around an ailing parks system in D.C. by reforming operations, leveraging outside resources and responding to a changing populous and growing urban setting. During his tenure there, Aguirre was able to solve a number of budget challenges, improve operations, revamp parks programs, implement a robust capital improvement program, develop a long-term master plan and receive national accreditation for the agency.

“I am confident that Jesús Aguirre is the leader who can manage our magnificent Department of Parks and Recreation and its talented staff during this exciting time in our City,” said Councilmember Jean Godden, Chair of the Council’s Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity Committee.

“I am honored to be joining the City of Seattle to help lead a parks system that is already the envy of most of the nation. I look forward to working closely with our communities to develop programming and build and maintain facilities that support these needs and interests of all residents,” Aguirre said.

Murray also praised acting superintendent Christopher Williams for his service in a time of budget cuts and financial uncertainty caused by the great recession. Williams, who is moving to the title of deputy superintendent, has worked at the department since 1992.

“Christopher has been a tremendous asset to our parks, his employees and the city,” Murray said. “I know he will continue his good work in the years ahead as he takes time to work through his ongoing health issues.”

Aguirre will be transitioning into the role over the coming months. He will assume responsibilities on a full-time basis on June 1st pending council confirmation.

Seattle Parks and Recreation manages more than 6,300 acres of public land and 26 community centers – along with trails, pools and boulevards. The department has a $147 million budget in 2015, and about 930 full-time employees.