D.C. Mayor Gray makes staff changes official

D.C. Mayor Gray makes staff changes official

By Nikita Stewart, Published: November 21

Two congressional staffers joined Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s executive office, and his communications director will be a senior adviser in the Health Department in a shake-up that signals another effort by the administration to regroup after missteps that have marred its 10 months in office.

As previously reported, Gray (D) announced at a news conference Monday that he was tapping Sheila Bunn, chief of staff to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), to be his new deputy chief of staff, and Pedro Ribeiro, a deputy chief of staff and spokesman for Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), to be his new communications director.

Communications director Linda Wharton Boyd will help lead high-profile projects in the Health Department, such as a strategic plan to prevent substance abuse. Boyd said at the news conference that the transfer would allow her to work on “some of my passion projects.”

Some members of Gray’s administration privately commended Boyd for her event-planning prowess but questioned whether she had the skills to manage the mayor’s communications efforts in a 24-hour news cycle. Several of the aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the staff changes, called the Health Department a better fit given her experience.

In an earlier interview, Gray said he would not describe the latest changes by his administration as a “shake-up” because he did not fire anyone or ask anyone to resign — actions he’s taken previously. He terminated his first chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, in March after nepotism and cronyism allegations against the administration, as well as controversy over high salaries for senior aides and the hiring and firing of former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown. Federal investigators are continuing their probe of accusations by Brown, who alleges that the Gray campaign paid him and promised him a job to disparage then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) in last year’s election. Gray has denied Brown’s allegations.

Gray continued to play down the significance of the recent personnel changes, saying the media could help by reporting the positive stories of his administration. “I believe that some of the things that we’ve done have not gotten out as strongly as they should,” he said Monday.

As deputy chief of staff, Bunn will work to get the mayor’s message out as she helps to run his executive office with Chief of Staff Chris Murphy. “I want to get around and talk to folks to see where they think there are problems and if there’s room for improvement, internally and out in the community,” Bunn said in an interview. “Down to the man on the street, people [need to have] a better understanding of the things he’s doing.

“The average person doesn’t know about developments and programs that the mayor is doing,” said Bunn, who worked for Norton in various capacities for more than 16 years.

Bunn, who highlighted her participation with the Ward 8 Democrats and the D.C. Democratic Party, is Gray’s second deputy chief of staff. In September, his deputy chief of staff resigned after news that she had voted in a D.C. election even though she had moved to Maryland.

While Bunn handles community outreach and engagement, Ribeiro, who began working for Lofgren in early 2007, will focus on the media.

Ribeiro, who lives in Columbia Heights, said he will take a minute-by-minute approach to the media. “It’s a 24-7 operation. That’s how it will be from now on,” he said in an interview.

But Ribeiro said he will not take to Twitter. “It’s not my opinion that matters,” he said. “It’s the mayor’s.”

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

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