Republican gets Gray’s nod for senior post

Republican gets Gray’s nod for senior post

Alan Blinder, Examiner Staff Writer, Wed, 2012-05-30 13:17

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray did something unusual last week: He appointed a Republican to one of the most powerful posts in a city stocked with Democrats.

Christopher Geldart, who is set to take over the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency if he wins the approval of lawmakers, is a Republican, a senior Wilson Building official said.

Geldart, a former Marine, worked in the administration of former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Republican, and currently leads G2 Solutions, a consulting company he founded.

“Christopher Geldart has extensive experience in homeland security and emergency management,” Gray said in announcing Geldart’s appointment. “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, and Mr. Geldart’s experience… suits him well to lead this crucial agency.”

Pedro Ribeiro, a Gray spokesman, said the mayor didn’t consider Geldart’s politics in making the appointment.

“The mayor doesn’t see this as a Republican or Democrat thing,” Ribeiro said. “He’s the most qualified person for the job.”

But Geldart’s appointment is still unusual since Gray has few opportunities to make appointments that cross party lines.

Democrats account for 75 percent of those on the voter rolls in the District, city records show, with Republicans making up only 6 percent.

D.C. law requires senior city employees to live within the District, giving Gray a shallow pool of Republican talent.

For the Geldart appointment, though, Gray searched beyond the District and persuaded his choice to move into the city to take the job.

Geldart will be replacing Millicent West, a holdover from the administration of Mayor Adrian Fenty who abruptly left the city’s government in January.

West ran the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. at the time Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. used the non-profit to steal more than $353,000 in public money.

Although West has not been charged with any wrongdoing, she cited “distractions” in her resignation letter. The Gray administration later acknowledged that West had been forced out of her post.

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