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Baltimore City Council set to vote on acting city administrator’s nomination after unanimous committee approval

Christopher J. Shorter’s nomination as Baltimore City administrator will move forward to the City Council for a vote March 22 after the rules and legislative oversight committee voted unanimously Thursday to approve his appointment.

Shorter has been working as acting city administrator for two months while the City Council solidifies his nomination. During Thursday’s committee hearing, the former assistant city manager in Austin, Texas, said he moved to Baltimore and is a new homeowner in the city.

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Shorter said that during his short tenure he has already identified several areas to improve upon, including raising the level of customer service, randomized audits in city departments, a rewards program and procurement reform.

“I am excited to be here in Baltimore and even more excited to help the mayor implement his vision and to create a more equitable city,” Shorter said. “My philosophy is to provide the highest quality service possible that you encounter.”

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The position of city administrator, championed by new Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott, was approved by voters last fall.

Christopher J. Shorter, the former assistant city manager in Austin, Texas, has been working as acting Baltimore's city administrator for two months.
Christopher J. Shorter, the former assistant city manager in Austin, Texas, has been working as acting Baltimore's city administrator for two months. (handout / HANDOUT)

When he was City Council president, Scott introduced a charter amendment to create the administrator position. He touted the role as politically neutral and a way to “professionalize city government.”

The council passed his proposed amendment, letting voters decide on the measure in November. About 78% of voters cast ballots in favor of it in the same general election in which they elected Scott.

In December the city’s spending board approved Shorter’s $250,000 annual base salary, as well as $9,556 in moving expenses. Shorter will be the second-highest-paid city employee, behind only Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who makes $275,000 a year.

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Shorter was one of four assistant city mangers in the Texas capital, where he was tasked with overseeing health, the environment, culture and “lifelong learning.” He had served in that capacity since February 2019 and before that in a number of roles for Washington, D.C., including public works director and chief of staff for the health department.

Five people, including Baltimore County Administrative Officer Stacy Rodgers and former Washington Mayor Vincent Gray, highly recommended Shorter to committee members.

“It is a pleasure to work with Chris and know that we are able to jointly address issues in a collaborative manner,” Rodgers said about the two working together since January. “I am honored to call Chris a friend and co-worker. He brings the skills and professionalism needed for this work and to help move Baltimore forward.”

Eric Costello, who represents District 11, said he’s been a vocal critic of adding the new position but that since working with Shorter, he fully supports him as city administrator. The Democrat said he has been “incredibly impressed” with Shorter’s ability to dive deep into myriad issues.

“Chris’ background and experience and the way Chris views problems and opportunities for solutions is exactly what we need for the City of Baltimore,” Costello said. “My only criticism for the mayor is that he hasn’t figured out how to go out and hire more Chris Shorters.”

Baltimore Sun reporters Emily Opilo and Alex Mann contributed to this article

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