After two decades as a member of the Mercer Island Fire Department, Steve Heitman will be moving on as the chief of the Renton Regional Fire Authority.
Heitman — who has been the local fire chief since 2014 after serving as deputy fire chief and a firefighter — will join the Renton organization on Jan. 31. Heitman said he’s leaving Mercer Island to take on a new challenge that will continue to drive him to improve and grow in his career.
He’s excited to step onto new terrain and experience “working under a different style of governance and a different financial model,” Heitman added.
Mercer Island city manager Jessi Bon has begun working on the Mercer Island Fire Department leadership transition plan, according to a press release.
“I have no doubt that Chief Heitman will excel with this career advancement and am not surprised that he was selected as the most highly-qualified candidate; we’re sorry to see him go and wish him all the best,” said Bon.
Heitman said that his top accomplishments on Mercer Island have been a residential fire sprinkler ordinance, the establishment of a multi-department training consortium, and the recent successful completion of a fire service analysis showing the high-level effectiveness and efficiency of the department.
He reflected on his time in the fire service: “What has kept me going is that I still come to work and feel that I make a difference, and that my work is very rewarding.”
MORE CITY LEADERSHIP TRANSITIONS
Last month, Bon also announced that Matt Mornick has been named the city’s finance director after serving in an interim role since March of last year, and Alaine Sommargren has been named to the new position of deputy director of the Public Works Department.
According to the press release, Mornick was a key leader in the development of the city’s 2021-2022 Biennial Budget and provided critical support for the city’s operations in 2020. Sommargren will oversee the operations division, which manages and maintains key city assets such as streets, potable water delivery, sanitary sewer, parks and storm drainage.
Mornick said he’s excited to be part of a “sea-change moment” for the city, which will work with the finance team and city council to revisit its fiscal policies and look to implement goals that make good sense for the community now and into the foreseeable future.
“2020 was a year of unparalleled change. We had no playbook, no previous experience to reference in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with some hindsight, I am taken by how well city staff pulled together, took on entirely new responsibilities, and simply figured it out,” he added. “Jessi Bon demonstrated consummate leadership in the face of turmoil. I am proud of how smart and swiftly staff and the city council worked to make decisions.”
Sommargren — who joined the city staff in 2008 — said she’s honored to be working with and supporting a tremendously experienced and passionate team, which will have an eye toward efficiency and quality while accomplishing its projects this year.
“We continue to adapt to the challenges the pandemic has presented, so even as we get closer to ‘business as usual,’ I’ll be focused on keeping our team and community safe,” she said.
Some of Sommargren’s favorite projects over the years were the renovations at Calkins Landing street end park and the Calkins Point area in Luther Burbank Park, as well as the creation of the 20-year management plan for Pioneer Park.