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Natwar Gandhi‘s 13-year tenure at the top of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer is close to an end. In a press conference this afternoon, Mayor Vince Gray announced the person he wants to replace Gandhi, who said in February that he plans to resign: Phoenix, Ariz, Cheif Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt.
DeWitt is trading a city rocked by a weak housing market for a city rocked by sequestration. Gray said DeWitt’s experience maintaining Phoenix’s credit ratings would come in handy as the city faces drops in federal government spending.
“The experience he had with the recession in Phoenix around what happened with the crash of the housing market would be fundamentally germane to our continuing challenge of being in the capital city,” Gray says.
DeWitt was chosen after a search headed by former CFO and Mayor Anthony Williams and former Office of Management and Budget Director Alice Rivlin.
DeWitt, who became the CFO in Phoenix in March 2009, said he’d be willing to collaborate with lawmakers, despite his office’s independence. Otherwise, he was carefully noncommittal on policy questions.
Would DeWitt sign checks for the city during a government shutdown, even if it was illegal? “You can’t do what’s illegal,” says DeWitt. “I’m not going to jail.”
DeWitt was similarly cagey on whether he would support raising the debt cap. “You don’t just walk in and say you’re raising the debt cap,” he says. “You have to look at that very, very, carefully.”Gray plans to submit to DeWitt’s nomination by Monday. D.C. Council finance chairman (and mayoral hopeful) Jack Evans says he’ll schedule a committee hearing on DeWitt sometime next month, with a vote from the full D.C. Council expected for November.
Photo by Will Sommer