June 3, 2009 in City

Hession, Murray aide up for Obama posts

Former Spokane mayor recently resigned as interim CEO of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
By and The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

(Full-size photo)

A former Spokane mayor and a top Senate staffer are among applicants for Northwest jobs in the Obama administration.

Former Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession has applied to be the top administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10, which covers Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska and has headquarters in Seattle.

The job is a presidential appointment, based on recommendations from the U.S. Senate.

Bush appointee Elin Miller left the post in January.

“It’s something I’m really interested in,” Hession said, “but I think there’s stiff competition.”

Other applicants include former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, state Sen. Phil Rockefeller and Dennis McLerran, director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. A recommendation has not yet been forwarded to the White House.

Hession, 59, recently resigned as interim CEO at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and spent 25 years as an attorney, specializing in tax and corporate law. He served as a city councilman and council president and was appointed mayor in 2005 after Jim West’s recall.

He cited his environmental record as mayor, noting that he signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Spokane. He was involved in Spokane River cleanup negotiations and worked with Idaho mayors on aquifer issues.

On a separate appointment to be made by Obama, Judy Olson, a former National Association of Wheatgrowers president and longtime Eastern Washington assistant to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, has been recommended for a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Olson’s name has been forwarded to the White House for state executive director of the Farm Service Agency, which manages many of the federal government’s commodity, credit and conservation programs.

It handles the Conservation Reserve Program as well as disaster assistance for floods, droughts and other natural disasters.

The opening had several applicants but Olson’s name is the only one being forwarded to the White House, a Murray aide said.

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