Bowser names Tommy Wells director of D.C. Environment Department

Bowser names Tommy Wells director of D.C. Environment Department

By Mike DeBonis, Washington Post, December 19 at 12:09 PM

Mayor-elect Muriel E. Bowser (D) is tapping a familiar face to run her Department of the Environment: D.C. Council colleague and former mayoral campaign rival Tommy Wells.

“As Tommy’s friend and colleague, I have witnessed first-hand the passion he has for conservation, clean transportation and creating a more sustainable District,” Bowser said in statement on her first agency director appointment. “With Tommy’s experience and enthusiasm, we will create new and innovative policies to make the District the most environmentally-friendly city in the nation.”

Wells, 57, is relinquishing the Ward 6 seat on Jan. 2 after eight years, having given up a likely third term to seek the Democratic mayoral nomination. He finished third in the April 1 Democratic primary behind Bowser and outgoing Mayor Vincent C. Gray. After the primary, he became a strong Bowser supporter, helping her outpoll independent David A. Catania in Wells’s closely contested home ward.

He will become the first former D.C. Council member to serve in a mayoral Cabinet position.

Wells, a former child social worker for the city, built his reputation as a council member as a champion for “livable, walkable neighborhoods” — advocating car-free lifestyles and pushing for public transit investments. But on the environmental front, he is best-known as the political architect of the city’s 5-cent disposable bag tax, which environmental advocates have credited with reducing trash in city waterways.

Wells, who chaired a committee for the Bowser transition effort, will replace Keith Anderson, who took over the environmental agency in 2012 after Gray dismissed director Christoph Tulou. Prominent environmental groups in the city raised questions about Tulou’s firing and never quite warmed to Anderson.

Bowser already has named several members of her senior management staff, including Rashad M. Young as city administrator, Kevin Donahue as his deputy, and two deputy mayors: Jennie Niles overseeing education and Brenda Donald overseeing health and human services.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.

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