Ron Sims

Ron Sims.

The Obama administration has tapped Ron Sims, the county executive of King County, Wash., to serve as deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Sims has earned a national reputation for his environmental work in the county, which includes Seattle (home of the Grist mothership).

Sims, whom the Obama team called “a visionary urban leader,” will manage HUD’s day-to-day operations and its $39 billion annual operating budget. Urbanists are hoping for big, green things from this department under Obama and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The addition of Sims is seen as another good sign.

“President Obama has … challenged his Cabinet to prepare for the age of global warming,” Sims said in a statement on Monday. “Success can only come if we transform our major metropolitan areas. King County is widely recognized for its cutting edge work on both climate adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction. Therefore, if confirmed, Secretary Donovan will assign me to oversee HUD’s critical role in protecting our economic prowess and improving the quality of life for the residents of our metropolitan centers while cutting emissions and preparing us for a warmer world.”

Sims serves on the board of a number of transit and environmental groups, including Reconnecting America’s Center for Transit-Oriented Development and the Brookings Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy.

“Ron’s track record as an innovative leader with an exciting vision for the future of our nation’s communities make him the perfect Deputy Secretary candidate as we tackle the nation’s housing crisis amidst the biggest economic downturn in decades,” said Donovan. “His experience at the helm of a large urban government provides a critical perspective and his collaborative approach to problem-solving has prepared him to effectively lead HUD’s operations as the agency charts a new aggressive course.”