D.C. Mayor-elect Gray scrutinizing candidates for administration posts

By Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 7:24 PM

D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray said his transition team is scrutinizing potential candidates for posts in his administration but emphasized that the process is preliminary and that he has made no decisions.

The team is conducting a review of would-be candidates for delinquent taxes and outstanding parking tickets, among other factors. The candidates include John W. Hill Jr., chief executive of the Federal City Council, and Allen Y. Lew, executive director of the city Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization.

Gray (D), who will be sworn in Jan. 2, said that he is unsure whether Hill or Lew would be interested in joining his administration and that he has had no conversations with them about posts. He said his discussions with Lew have been limited to the operations of the education facilities agency, which has been praised for its transformation of the city's school buildings.

"Everybody knows I like him," Gray said.

Hill and Lew did not return calls seeking comment about the process, which is under close wraps within the transition team. "They're putting names in there that haven't been suggested to me yet," Gray said of a preliminary list of names obtained by The Washington Post.

Two sources within the transition team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the process, said that not all those under review might be presented to Gray as potential candidates. But the vetting would prepare Gray, who now serves as D.C. Council chairman, to start building his mayoral Cabinet, including senior staff and potential hires to head education and economic development.

It is unclear for which jobs the transition team would consider Hill and Lew, but two sources within the transition team said Hill could be tapped to be city administrator. Hill has been at the Federal City Council, a local nonprofit organization that recommends city policy, since 2004 and is the former director of the financial control board that oversaw the District's finances during a fiscal crisis in the late 1990s. Lew, along with several others, has been floated as a candidate to be the new deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

Those under review are a mix of Gray's D.C. Council staff, directors in the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and agency heads in the administration of former mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Major players being examined in the preliminary review, according to the list, include Emily Durso, who recently announced that she would leave her job as president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.; Michael Kelly, former director of the D.C. Housing Authority, who oversees public housing in New York City; Milton Bailey, president of the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, who previously headed D.C. housing agencies; and Brenda Donald Walker, deputy mayor for Children, Youth, Families and Elders under Williams.

Also on the list are: William O. Howland Jr., director of the Department of Public Works; Linda Argo, director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; and Lucinda M. Babers, director of the Department of Motor Vehicles. All worked under Williams in some capacity and carried over into the Fenty administration.

In the area of education, the transition team is looking at Joshua Kern, executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Academy public charter high school and a Gray adviser during the campaign.

And from Gray's staff, the preliminary review includes: Brian K. Flowers, the council's general counsel; budget director Eric Goulet; Cynthia Brock-Smith, secretary of the council; Stephen Glaude, director of constitutent services; and Claudia McKoin, director of federal relations.

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