Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) is shaking up his administration by hiring two Congressional staffers to lead his communications and to help oversee his executive office, according to several sources on the mayor’s staff.
Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), will be the new director of communications while Sheila Bunn, chief of staff to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, will be Gray’s new deputy chief of staff.
Gray (D) is expected to make the announcement at a news conference Monday, following several weeks of speculation that he wanted to realign his staff and regroup as his administration’s missteps continued to dominate news cycles.
In a brief interview last week, Gray declined to reveal specifics about the changes, but he said he would not describe them as a “shakeup.”
He said no one was being fired or asked to resign, actions he has taken previously.
Current communications director Linda Wharton Boyd will move to the Department of Health to act as a special assistant and help lead high-profile projects, such as a strategic plan to prevent substance abuse. “It’s a great role for her because it allows her to use all of her contacts to get people out of their silos,” said a member of Gray’s staff who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.
Members of Gray’s administration privately praised Boyd for her events planning, but criticized her for failing to better manage the mayor’s crises. Gray’s public relations problems began almost immediately after taking office. As he touted fiscal responsibility, several media outlets, including The Washington Post, found salaries higher than that of predecessors in former mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s administration.
The adult children of several aides in the mayor’s administration and campaign also landed jobs. Among them was Boyd’s son. He and others later resigned.
Gray also fired or asked for the resignations of several top aides, including his chief of staff.
The vetting process of Grey’s administration has also been under scrutiny. Sulaimon Brown, a former mayoral candidate whose allegations that he was paid and promised a job to disparage Fenty last year are at the center of a federal probe, was found to have a lengthy list of legal run-ins.
In September, deputy chief of staff Andi Pringle resigned after days on the job, following news that she had voted in a D.C. election though she had moved to Maryland.
Her resignation was considered another setback for Gray, but chief of staff Chris Murphy has scrambled to help the mayor assemble a staff in hopes of having a successful term.
Though Bunn will help run the mayor’s executive office, her duties will include mending and developing relationships outside the government, said an aide who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Ribeiro is expected to take a more fast-paced approach to the news of the day and to be more strategic and focused than Boyd, an aide said. “The metabolism of the Hill is sort of more what we need,” the aide said.
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