D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has nominated a veteran public safety official to head the city’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, one of the most important positions in city government.
Gray is asking the D.C. Council to confirm Christopher T. Geldart who is currently president of G2 Solutions, a Severna Park-based company that provides homeland security advice to local governments and corporations.
Gray nominated Geldart after Millicent D. West resigned from the position in January amid questions about her previous job as head of the DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. When West headed the Trust in 2008 and 2009, former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas used more than $300,000 in grants from the organization for his personal use.
West, who former mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) tapped in 2009 to head homeland security, had not been accused of any wrongdoing in the Thomas scandal. But West said in January she was stepping down “to ensure the work of the agency can carry on without any distractions.”
In a city long viewed as a top target for a possible terrorist attack, the head of the District’s Homeland Security Agency is responsible for planning for, coordinating, and responding to man-made or natural disasters ranging from a bad thunderstorm to a nuclear bomb.
In recent years, the District’s homeland security chief has played a crucial role in planning for President Obama’s 2008 inauguration and responding to the 2009 Metro accident, the back to back blizzards in 2010, and the city’s brush with Hurricane Irene last August, among other things.
Because the job also requires a high-degree of interaction with federal officials, the director is expected to have the necessary security clearances.
According to the Gray administration, Geldart served as vice president for Homeland Security and Emergency Management for URS Corporation before he started his own company.
He also previously directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Capital Region Coordination Office and served as homeland security advisor to former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich (R).
After a 12-year stint in the Marines, Geldart also worked as a homeland-security consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, an international consulting and contracting firm.
“Keeping District residents and visitors safe in the event of any adverse event — natural or man-made — is one of our primary functions as government officials,” Gray said in a statement. “Mr. Geldart’s experience in coordinating with federal officials and law enforcement agencies in our region suits him well to lead this crucial agency.”
Jennifer Green, who had led the district’s Office of Unified Communications, has been serving as the interim director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The council will likely move swiftly to act on Geldart’s nomination, but he also will be required to move into the District, Gray said.