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Baltimore spokesman takes job at D.C. firm, first major departure from mayor’s office after primary loss

Lester Davis, left, speaks to Mayor Jack Young, right, at City Hall in this file photo. Davis, the city's primary spokesperson, is leaving his job to take a position with a D.C. consulting firm. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)
Lester Davis, left, speaks to Mayor Jack Young, right, at City Hall in this file photo. Davis, the city's primary spokesperson, is leaving his job to take a position with a D.C. consulting firm. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun) (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore’s chief spokesman Lester Davis is leaving City Hall for a job with a Washington-based consulting firm, representing the first major departure from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s administration since he lost the Democratic primary in June.

Davis will begin next month as a public affairs vice president at SKDKnickerbocker, a national communications and political consulting firm.

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He’s worked for Young for more than a decade, spanning his time as City Council president and mayor. Davis most recently served a dual role in the mayor’s office, as both spokesman and top lobbyist.

“Serving the residents of Baltimore has been the highlight of my professional career and working on their behalf has truly been a blessing,” Davis said.

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Young was soundly defeated in the June primary as he attempted to hold onto the seat to which he ascended when former Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned in May 2019.

Davis’ salary was $175,000.

“I wish I was able to keep him, but I’m only going to be mayor until December,” Young said. “I lost the election so people are looking, and I don’t blame them for looking for other opportunities.”

Davis was part of the team that helped Young navigate a tumultuous year in office, which included a ransomware attack that crippled city services and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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During a legislative session in Annapolis cut short by the COVID-19 crisis, Davis worked to ensure the Preakness Stakes remained in Baltimore and lobbied for increased education funding.

Young said Davis was instrumental in creating the city’s Children and Youth Fund, a multimillion dollar pot of money intended to sustain grassroots organizations that work with Baltimore’s young people.

“Lester has been just phenomenal in his service to not only me, but to the citizens of Baltimore,” he said.

Existing staff in the mayor’s office will absorb Davis’ workload.

He had been working with City Council President Brandon Scott to discuss his likely transition into the mayor’s office. Scott won the Democratic primary, which all but guarantees a general election victory in deep-blue Baltimore.

Scott said Davis has long been able to “bridge divides” in City Hall and get important legislation passed.

“Lester has been a great public servant for city of Baltimore,” Scott said. “I have enjoyed working with him through out the years even when we were on opposite sides.”

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