Mayor Vince Gray’s nine-month lame duck period would seem to leave plenty of time for his administration to accomplish its goals, but less than a week after he lost his re-election bid, some of his key appointees are making their departures.
Terry Bellamy, the director of the District Department of Transportation, is stepping down, a source in Gray’s administration says. Also exiting DDOT is the agency’s chief engineer, Ronaldo “Nick” Nicholson, whose departure comes as the city’s first streetcar line in half a century is being prepared to enter service.
Mary Cheh, who chairs the DC Council’s transportation committee, is concerned about whether losing Bellamy and Nicholson with more than eight months left in Gray’s term will delay the streetcar and other projects. “She doesn’t want an agency floating around without permanent leadership for half a year,” her spokesman Devin Barrington-Ward says.
But news of Bellamy’s and Nicholson’s resignations comes the same day Cheh introduced legislation that would radically shake up DDOT by paring down its role to roadway construction and traffic management while putting public transportation programs like the streetcar, Capital Bikeshare, and Circulator bus lines under a separate agency. Spokespeople for DDOT could not be reached to comment on Bellamy’s departure or Cheh’s proposal.
The exodus at DDOT comes a day after Nick Majett, the head of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, announced his departure from Gray’s cabinet. Majett, who was appointed by Gray in 2011, is taking an unspecified job in the Prince George’s County government, he tells Washingtonian in an email.
Cabinet-level exits are not surprising when an incumbent loses, but with Gray’s term not expiring until January and his fiscal year 2015 budget just unveiled, he is not planning on coasting to the finish.
“If I am going to be in this job another nine months, I am going to work extremely hard,” he said last Tuesday upon conceding defeat to Democratic mayoral nominee Muriel Bowser. Bowser has declined to name anyone specific when asked who she intends to appoint to critical city positions. She said in an appearance last Friday on WAMU that she’s met with DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, but did not commit to keeping her on. The only Gray administration official Bowser was emphatic on during the Democratic primary was Fire and EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, who she said she would fire.