Former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg is on the short list to head the Washington State Ferry system.
The state Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday that Ladenburg is one of two candidates remaining after a nationwide search to fill the position. The other contender is the acting ferries chief, Capt. George Capacci.
Ladenburg could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In March, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson promised a nationwide search to fill the vacancy.
“We’re casting a wide net to find the best person for the job and will include external stakeholders in the process,” she said at the time.
Transportation Department spokesman Lars Erickson said Wednesday that 80 people applied for the job.
“After reviewing the applications and resumes the selection committee determined that 15 were qualified,” he said. “Six were brought in for interviews.”
Peterson will interview Landenburg and Capacci next week, Erickson said.
There’s no official deadline for filling the position, he said, but the Transportation Department’s goal has been to have an offer to a candidate by June 22.
Ladenburg has a long résumé of public service in Pierce County, having been a Tacoma City Council member and Pierce County prosecuting attorney before becoming the county’s chief executive.
While he’s had no notable experience with marine transportation, he does have some background in public transit. He was chairman of the Sound Transit Board of Directors from 2005 through 2007.
Capacci has been the interim assistant secretary in charge of the Ferry Division since March 21. Before that, he was the system’s deputy chief of operations and construction. He also was vice president of Fleet Operations with the Alaska Marine Highway System and is a retired Coast Guard officer.
The Transportation Department has scheduled two “meet and greet” sessions next week when the public will be able to listen to Ladenburg and Capacci speak and then ask questions in an informal setting.
The first session will be from 4-6 p.m. Monday at Brickworks, 150 Nichols St., in Friday Harbor.
The second session will be from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Norm Dicks Center in Bremerton.
Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and moves 22 million passengers annually. The system’s previous chief, David Moseley, was paid $144,768 a year.