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June 14, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Sims leaving HUD, says he's not running for governor

Posted by Jim Brunner

Update: 11:40 a.m. Updated with comments from Sims.

Former King County Executive Ron Sims is leaving his post in the Obama administration and will return to Seattle.

Sims, deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, made the announcement Tuesday in a message to his staff, saying he was "retiring from public service" and leaving HUD at the end of July.

In an interview, Sims said the decision was entirely personal, saying he'd grown weary of living thousands of miles away from his wife, Cayan Topacio. While he said he's happy with what he accomplished at HUD, "in the end, all of the work in the world will never outweigh the love you have for your family."

Lately, Sims said, "I felt like I was a visitor," just "popping in and out" of his family's lives. Two of his sons live in the Seattle area, he said, as well as his 91-year-old mother.

Though his announcement coincides with Gov. Chris Gregoire's decision not to seek a third term, Sims said he has no plans to run for governor. He said he made his decision to leave three weeks ago.

In fact, Sims said he plans to volunteer to help fellow Democrat Rep. Jay Inslee with his own expected gubernatorial campaign, as well as working to ensure President Obama's reelection. "Jay is the right candidate, and clearly President Obama is the right president," he said.

But Sims did not rule out a future run for office locally -- including the 2013 Seattle Mayor's race. Several potential contenders already are being talked about to challenge Mayor Mike McGinn, who has had dismal poll numbers of late.

"I have no idea what I am going do in 2013," Sims said.

Sims, 62, began his stint as HUD's number two official in May 2009. In that role, he's been responsible for managing the department's daily operations, including a $40 billion budget and 8,500 employees.

Sims served three terms as King County Executive after first winning appointment to the job in 1996 to succeed Gary Locke, who was elected governor. Sims had served on the Metropolitan King County Council since 1985. He ran unsuccessfully for statewide office twice - running for governor in 2004 and U.S. Senate in 1994.

In the short term after he returns to Seattle, Sims said he'll spend time with his wife and family, work in the garden, and start on a backlogged list of chores.

"Her list of to-dos is very very long," Sims said. "I will attack them with a smile on my face and enthusiasm in my being."

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Jim Brunner
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