Environmental advocate Jay Manning is moving from the state Department of Ecology to chief of staff for Gov. Chris Gregoire this month.
Manning will move over Oct. 19 to fill the vacancy of Cindy Zehnder, who announced in August she would leave this fall after a two-year stint. Zehnder is expected to stay on for a short period to overlap Manning’s arrival.
Ecology deputy director Polly Zehm will move up to serve as interim director while a search for replacements is made, likely inside the state, according to Gregoire spokesman Glenn Kuper.
Manning joined the agency in 2005 and its spokesmen say he oversaw a number of policy advances related to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better energy efficiencies, reduced toxins in electronic equipment and toys, and he played roles in creating the Puget Sound Partnership, winning federal agreements to speed up Hanford cleanup, and ending a policy deadlock over water in the Columbia Basin.
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The Governor’s Office described Manning as a third- generation Washingtonian who graduated from high school in Port Orchard and has law experience in private practice and with the state Attorney General’s Office. Manning makes his change at a time Gregoire is looking at a major reconfiguration of government that could redistribute some natural-resource duties from a dozen state agencies, including Ecology, into two, three or even five agencies.
“The senior staff at Ecology is very well versed in the process and will be able to articulate their perspectives even after Jay departs,” Kuper said. “Certainly he’ll have a little more insight about the subject matter as it comes to the level of the governor and the decision-making.’’