Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott last week announced Christopher J. Shorter, who has overseen D.C.’s Department of Public Works and the Department of Health, will become the city’s first public manager.
“Hiring Baltimore’s first chief administrative officer has been one of my top priorities, and I look forward to working closely with Mr. Shorter to focus on how we effectively, reliably and equitably deliver services to all of our residents,” Scott said on Dec. 7.
Shorter presently works as an assistant city manager in Austin, Texas where he leads departments that encompass health, the environment, culture and adult continuing education. Scott said Shorter’s leadership on Austin’s plan to address the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his emphasis on fighting homelessness and supporting vulnerable citizens impressed him.
Scott hasn’t indicated when Shorter will start his new job.
In a Facebook post on Dec. 7, Shorter expressed appreciation to Austinites for allowing him to serve them since February 2019. Nevertheless, he said he looked forward to working in Baltimore “as the city’s first-ever city administrator.”
Shorter has worked extensively in the District in leading roles with public agencies. He was director of the public works department under D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser from July 2015 to February 2019. Prior to leading public works, Shorter served as the chief operating officer for the health department first in the Vincent C. Gray mayoral administration and then for Bowser from September 2013 to July 2015. He worked as a deputy director for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education from September. 2012 to September 2013 under Gray. In addition, Shorter worked in the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services as a special assistant to the chief administrative officer and chief of staff from September 2008 to September 2012.
Before working for the District government, he was senior operations manager of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington from September 2007 to September 2008. Prior to that, Shorter was senior management analyst for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from August 2004 to September 2007. Plus, he served as a graduate intern in the Office of the Mayor of Detroit from April 2002 to August 2002.
Shorter received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida A&M University in 2001 and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004.
Shorter’s responsibilities will be to manage Baltimore’s city government daily. In Baltimore, the mayor managed the city daily with the assistance of agency directors. Scott, as the president of the Baltimore City Council and the Democratic nominee for mayor, wanted Baltimore to be like other major cities such as Washington, D.C. in having an administrator take care of the daily business of the city. He brought the idea to the council in July and they approved it for a change to the city’s charter with an amendment. The voters ratified the city administrator charter amendment on Nov. 3.
In Baltimore, the city administrator doesn’t need the confirmation of the city council. Nevertheless, Baltimore City Council member John Bullock supports Scott’s choice of Shorter.
“Shorter has a great background,” Bullock, who represents District 9 that covers west and southwest Baltimore, said. “He is fully capable of doing the job. It was a great hire.”
In July, the Baltimore City Council passed a charter amendment that would establish a chief administrative officer position in city government who would focus on improving the performance in city agencies, ensuring accurate information about city services is publicly available and increasing government responsiveness to resident’s needs.
The charter amendment appeared on the November ballot and passed.
Previously, Shorter served as director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Public Works, where he oversaw the expansion of the district’s environmental sustainability portfolio and led the introduction of advanced technology to transform DPW’s operations, in addition to other roles in the District.
Shorter earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.