Mayor-elect Jim Kenney announced another round of administrative appointments Tuesday, including some of his former City Council staffers and a reshuffling of top Nutter administration aides.
Jim Engler, a Kenney campaign official and former Council staffer, will serve as deputy mayor for policy and legislation. Richard Lazer, also a Kenney campaign and Council staffer, will serve as deputy mayor for labor.
Clarena Tolson, the current revenue commissioner, will serve as the deputy managing director for infrastructure and transportation. Brian Abernathy, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority, will be first deputy managing director, and David Wilson, the Nutter administration's first deputy managing director for administration, will serve as deputy managing director for community and culture.
Engler, who was Kenney's campaign policy director, will oversee policy and legislation development, as well as the grants office. Before working on Kenney's campaign, Engler, 30, served as then-Councilman Kenney's legislative director.
"We can't do anything until policy is right and he gets it right," Kenney said of Engler at Tuesday's announcement. Engler, like Kenney, is a St. Joseph's Prep alumnus who grew up and lives in South Philadelphia.
While Nutter doesn't have a deputy mayor for labor, Kenney said he took a page from former Mayor Ed Rendell's playbook and brought the position back. Kenney will have to tackle negotiating a new contract with the city's largest municipal union, AFSCME District Council 33, as soon as he takes office. The other three municipal union contracts will follow shortly after.
During Tuesday's announcement, Lazer, 30, said he wants "open lines of communications" with the unions. Several union leaders, including John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, attended Tuesday's news conference.
Before working on the Kenney campaign, Lazer spent 10 years as a community liaison for then-Councilman Kenney.
Abernathy, 39, is a longtime ally of Kenney's. He will serve as the first deputy to recently appointed Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis.
Kenney praised Abernathy for his "intelligence and fortitude," noting that Abernathy had not hesitated to challenge decisions Kenney made as a councilman when he thought they were suspect. Kenney said he hoped Abernathy would do the same with DiBerardinis.
"That will be fun," Kenney said, laughing.
Abernathy has been executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority since 2013. In that position, he has worked on the creation of the Land Bank and has recently been overseeing the end of the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, a Street administration $300 million plan to reduce blight in the city's neighborhoods that still has money left.
Prior to the Redevelopment Authority, Abernathy was chief of staff to Managing Director Richard Negrin.
Abernathy also served as an aide to then-Councilman Frank DiCicco, who had an office next to Kenney's for many years. During that time, Abernathy developed a relationship with the mayor-elect.
Tolson will report to DiBerardinis and will have oversight of various departments, including Streets and Water. Tolson also will be charged with coordinating with several authorities and utilities, including SEPTA, the state Department of Transportation, Peco, the Gas Works, the Parking Authority, the Delaware River Port Authority, and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.
Tolson has been revenue commissioner since 2013. Before that she was the longtime streets commissioner, going back to the Street administration. She was the first woman to head the Streets Department. She came up through the ranks, serving as spokeswoman for the department and deputy commissioner before becoming commissioner in 2002.
Wilson will oversee departments including Parks and Recreation, Libraries, and the Office of Arts and& Culture.
Before Nutter brought Wilson, 55, to Philadelphia in 2008, he worked as executive vice president of the Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County and as director of parks and public infrastructure for Milwaukee County, Wis.
On Tuesday, Wilson said he hoped to continue the work that DiBerardinis, his new boss, did as the head of parks and recreation.
"The opportunity to stay ... is something I cannot put into words," he said.
Kenney is to announce more appointments Wednesday.