Washington, D.C.,Mayor Vincent Gray has added some new and needed faces into the upper ranks of his office. He plans to restore the confidence of District residents by bringing in District outsiders, a move that breaks past traditions of the local government.
Gray announced the appointment of Christopher Murphy as his new chief of staff. He is joined by incoming Deputy Chief of Staff Andrea Pringle. Both new hires were welcomed in a press conference Tuesday.
“I think you want some fresh faces, some fresh eyes on the business of government,” Gray said in an interview reported in The Washington Post.
“They’re not newcomers. They’re just newcomers to D.C. government,” Gray said.
Murphy joins Gray’s team from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he served as deputy chief of staff. Pringle was the deputy campaign manager for former presidential candidate Howard Dean, a former Vermont governor. She has also worked on the presidential campaign for Bill Richardson, who served as New Mexico’s governor.
The chief of staff transition is a needed one for the fledgling Gray administration. Just months into his first term that began in January, the mayor dismissed Gerri Mason Hall, Murphy’s predecessor as chief of staff. Hall was accused of nepotism and cronyism that hurt the image of city government.
“There’s no question these mistakes [of the past] eroded the public’s faith in their government and their trust in my leadership,” Gray said to reporters.
“I campaigned on a promise of restoring accountability to city government. The fact of the matter is we haven’t always lived up to that commitment,” he added.
The FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Congress are now investigating whether a Gray campaign insider was promised a job and received payment for disparaging remarks regarding Adrian Fenty, Gray’s opponent and the then-incumbent, leading up to the primary race in September 2010. They have found no evidence, however, that Gray had knowledge of any deal.
A survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation in June confirmed Gray’s worst fears. District residents were steadily losing confidence in his administration, and he was becoming unpopular. Advisers recommended that Gray quickly change the trajectory of his administration by changing his team and that he do so in a public way.
After considering several candidates, the mayor decided on Murphy and Pringle.
One of the first orders of business for the new hires is to connect with District residents. The need to restore confidence and reset the course for Gray’s next three years in office is key. Murphy and Pringle will assist Gray in this effort, as well as honing messaging to his constituents.