Renton's economic development director to leave job of six years

Suzanne Dale Estey has served as the City of Renton
Suzanne Dale Estey has served as the City of Renton's economic development director for six years.
— image credit: Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter

Suzanne Dale Estey, who helped keep the 737 in Renton and helped bring jobs, the Seattle International Film Festival and new businesses to the city, is resigning as the city's economic development director.

Her six years in Renton is the longest time she's spent in any one job in her private career and a public one that has spanned most levels of government, including in the Clinton White House.

She has developed relationships that she has been able to "bring to bear" to help Renton, she says.

Dale Estey, 42, wears a number of hats for the city; she'll spend the next month or so handing off projects to other city staff until her last day on Jan. 2. Monday, she'll present the city's legislative agenda to the City Council for the 2013 session of the state Legislature.

And she's looking at "exciting possibilities" for the next phase of her career. She has job offers that she's taking time to think about.

Dale Estey has met with members of Gov.-elect Jay Inslee's transition team, including Renton Schools Supt. Mary Alice Heuschel, about a job in state government. So far, there isn't a particular job she's discussed with the team.

"My sense is they are aggressively seeking people who will be change agents to move the state forward," she said, adding to be a part of that would be an honor.

In a statement Wednesday, Mayor Denis Law said "we wish her well on her future endeavors."

"Over the past six years Suzanne has played a major role in Renton’s growth, including attracting new employers and development to this city," he said. "Suzanne has also been a valued intergovernmental relations liaison between the city and elected officials at the state and federal level."

A recent job came open in Renton city government, that of administrator of the Department of Community and Economic Development. Dale Estey's Economic Development Division is part of that department.

Dale Estey refrained from answering whether she wanted the job held by Alex Pietsch, who went on to lead the state's Office of Aerospace. However, she wanted to be considered for the job, she said. She doesn't know whether she was in the running.

"But ultimately I am not sure I would have accepted it," she said.

Pietsch's  successor, Chip Vincent, who was the city's planning director, is "doing a good job managing the department," she said.

Clearly, Dale Estey is going to miss Renton.

Dale Estey and her husband Mike Estey, who manages the City of Seattle's parking program, have two sons, Dale, 6, and Noah, 4. Her sons have grown up taking part in Renton events and have eaten a few cupcakes at the Common Ground in downtown Renton.

They live in Seattle, so part of her decision is based on lifestyle – the commute "has been draining" and she's missing some of her kids' activities.

"I really care about this community," said Dale Estey, fighting back tears. "I have given a tremendous amount of energy to trying to help this community."

She's had fun and she's proud of what fellow city staffers and the community have accomplished.

"We and I have worked really really hard to create jobs here and to grow the economy here," she said. "We've had some success – of course not as much success as we would all like."

Now, from a different role, she's "looking forward to watching Renton continue to grow and thrive."

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