The New Round of Political Appointments
The at-large-city council seat left vacant by Kwame Brown’s election to the Council Chairman position will be filled permanently April 26 in a special election for which at least seven candidates have filed.
One of them, Sekou Biddle, who has served on the State Board of Education, got a leg up recently when he was selected by the State Democratic Committee to temporarily fill the seat until the April election.
Other candidates include Vincent Orange, who had challenged Brown for the chairmanship, served as Ward 7 Councilman, and ran unsuccessfully for mayor. Also running are Dorothy Douglas, another State Board of Education member, Kelvin Robinson who was former Mayor Anthony Williams’ chief of staff, Stanley Mayes, a former Columbia Heights ANC member, Saul Solorzano and Calvin Gurley.
Biddle is director of Jumpstart for Young Children and was a program director for Teach for America, which will put him right into the middle of the ongoing debate over the future of school reform in the District.
Meanwhile, Mayor Gray, since his inauguration and before, has filled a number of spots in his administration, most prominent among them the critical job of city administrator, for which he has tapped Allan Lew. Lew previously served as a very effective director of facilities modernization for the DCPS.
Other appointments include Eric Goulet, Deputy Chief and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Budget and Finance; Brian Flowers, General Counsel to the Mayor, who served in a similar role for the City Council; Cynthia Brock-Smith, Secretary of the District of Columbia; Janene Jackson, Director of the Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs; Stephen Glaude, Director of the Office of Community Affairs; Roxana Olivas, Director of the Office of Latino Affairs; and Crystal Palmer, Director of the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development.
The Mayor has also appointed Dr. Mohammad N. Akhter as Director of the Department of Health; Wayne Turnage, Director of the Department of Health Care Finance; Antonio Hunter, Director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development; and Dr. Linda Wharton Boyd, Director of Communication.
Gray also ended speculation about the future of current District Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who will remain at her post in spite of some grumblings in the ranks.
Gray has not yet made a decision on who will be Chancellor of the District of Columbia School District, where Kaya Henderson, top aide to former Chancellor Rhee, now serves as interim chancellor. Speculation and rumor has been rife, but so far Gray indicated that there was a process that had to be followed before a decision is made. By all accounts, including Gray’s, Henderson has done an effective job.