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Outgoing Seattle councilmember will guide NHL group's transportation efforts

One of three Seattle councilmembers who have announced they will not run for re-election will work for the group bringing hockey to the city.

The above video is from earlier this week when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman visited Seattle after the city was awarded an expansion team.

After leaving the Seattle City Council, outgoing Councilmember Rob Johnson will lead the transportation efforts for Seattle’s new hockey franchise and arena.

“It’s a good fit,” he told KING 5 on Friday about his planned move at the end of his term this year. 

Johnson has agreed to financial terms with the NHL Seattle group to help mitigate the transportation impacts around congested South Lake Union. His exact title is still to be determined. He says he will be leading the development of a transportation plan and getting fans in and out of the new building, now slated to open in 2021.

Johnson says he’s going public now to eliminate any potential conflict of interest. He says he has been working with Seattle’s Ethics and Elections Commission. 

Johnson was approached by the group after he announced he would not seek re-election last year. Johnson says Wayne Barnett, the EEC’s Executive Director has been advising him on how to avoid any sort of conflict, including recusing himself from a technical vote on the arena in December. Johnson says he will now recuse himself from any Arena-related legislation through the end of his term. 

“I’m really excited,” he told KING 5. “I’m looking forward to developing the infrastructure for the arena. It’ll involve buses and bikes, and believe it or not, there are a lot of parking spaces nearby. We’ll need to help connect the available spaces with ticket holders.”

NHL CEO Tod Leiweke confirmed the news.

"We are excited that Rob Johnson will be joining our organization to manage transportation solutions for the Seattle Center Arena. His knowledge of Seattle’s transportation landscape will be invaluable to our efforts to develop an effective plan for attending our events. After Rob announced he would not be seeking re-election, we knew that his extensive urban planning and transportation background would be a great asset as we move forward to create a world-class urban arena at Seattle Center. We are glad that he has decided to join our team.”

Johnson’s background is in urban planning and transportation. He led the Transportation Choices Coalition from 2008-15 before leaving to run for council. He was replaced by Shefali Ranganathan, who is now Deputy Mayor in Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration. 

Johnson is one of three council members who have announced they will not seek re-election. The others, Sally Bagshaw and Bruce Harrell, have not announced their next move.

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