Kim Washington, a top aide to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore's chief lobbyist, will leave her post early in the coming General Assembly session, city officials announced Monday.
Washington, a friend of Rawlings-Blake's since childhood, will take a post in the city housing department, where she worked previously.
Del. Curt Anderson, head of the city's House delegation in Annapolis, said Washington informed him over the weekend that she would be leaving in early February. Washington had worked closely with legislators over the past month to craft the city's priorities in the session that begins Wednesday, he said.
Washington is the latest high-profile official to depart the Rawlings-Blake administration. Over the past 12 months, a number of top advisers have left and been replaced, including a chief of staff, a deputy mayor, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, and a recreation and parks director.
City Hall sources attributed Washington's departure, in part, to tension between the chief of staff, Alexander Sanchez, and others in the administration. Sanchez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rawlings-Blake praised Washington in a statement as a "dedicated and talented public servant who brings a wealth of knowledge, acumen and experience."
City Councilman Brandon Scott said council members have a close working relationship with Washington, who advocated for the mayor's agenda before the council and in Annapolis.
"It's a huge loss for the mayor's administration," said Scott. "Kim is great at what she does — not only at working with us elected officials, but making sure the needs of the citizens are being met."
Scott added that Washington's expertise in dealing with City Hall and the state legislature would be a boon to the housing department.
A spokesman for the mayor said that longtime city lobbyist Mary Pat Fannon would head the city's efforts in Annapolis in the coming session.
Washington will become chief of staff to Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano on Feb, 4, according to a news release. A native Baltimorean and a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, Washington worked for the housing department from 2003 to 2007.
She served as Rawlings-Blake's chief of staff when she was City Council president and has been a top adviser since Rawlings-Blake became mayor in 2010. She served as a deputy mayor and, after Rawlings-Blake abolished the "deputy mayor" title, became deputy chief of government relations and community affairs.
Washington and Rawlings-Blake have been close friends since they met in kindergarten at Grace and St. Peter's School.
"I'm grateful to Mayor Rawlings-Blake for the opportunity to serve with her for many years, including her transition," Washington said in a statement. "In three years, we created a record of reform and change that is preparing Baltimore for years of growth."
Washington declined to comment further.
Also Monday, city officials announced that Khalil Zaied would assume the newly created role of deputy chief of operations. Zaied has led the Department of Transportation since 2010 and previously served as the head of the Department of General Services. He will oversee transportation, public works, general services and the Parking Authority of Baltimore City in his new role.
Frank Murphy, the transportation department's deputy director, will lead the department until a replacement is chosen.
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