Port of Seattle CEO on paid leave for ‘personnel issues’ amid performance review

The Port of Seattle’s CEO is on leave amid a performance review, officials said Thursday.

Ted Fick, who has led the Port for the past 2½ years, is on paid leave for an undetermined amount of time, according to a message distributed to Port employees.

Officials declined to say why or to make any additional comment, except to say that port operations will continue as normal.

Port Chief Operating Officer David Soike, who is now the acting CEO, told employees in the message that Fick is on leave “pending resolution of personnel issues.” He noted the process “presumes no outcomes.”

Fick has been out of the office for at least a few days.

He is in the middle of a closed-door performance review with the five-member Port Commission, a process that is not expected to be completed for another couple of weeks. Several of the elected port commissioners either did not respond to messages or said they would not comment until the process has been completed.

Fick did not respond to email and phone messages Thursday. His port email has an out-of-office message saying he is on paid time off.

Fick was charged with DUI in April while driving east across the Highway 520 bridge toward his home in Bellevue. A hearing is set for February. His attorney was unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon.

“My strategy is for my attorney to negotiate a lower infraction on the DUI matter and not go to trial,” Fick told port commissioners in a July email reviewed by The Seattle Times.

It is unclear whether the personnel issues are related to the DUI.

The Port of Seattle has 2,000 employees and encompasses operations at the port, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, cruise-ship terminals and marinas, as well as some local real estate.

At the time of his hiring, Fick, 57, was paid $350,000 per year.

Fick, whose family has roots in Tacoma, previously served as chief executive of Polar Corp., a manufacturer based in Minnesota, according to his biography on the port’s website. The bio touts his “proven track record of success in driving dramatic growth, operational excellence and talent development,” and says that he presided over “the best operational year in (the port’s) 105-year history.”

Soike, the acting CEO, has been with the port for 36 years.

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