DC deputy mayor Geldart resigns in wake of assault charge, residency questions

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference on Oct. 12, 2022. (WTOP/Kristi King)

D.C.’s embattled deputy mayor for public safety and justice — facing scrutiny over an allegation of assault and battery and questions about his residency in Virginia — is stepping down.

In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she was “saddened” to announce she had accepted Deputy Mayor Chris Geldart’s resignation.

“I am proud of the work that we have done together over the last eight years and I am immensely grateful to Chris for his service to the city,” Bowser said, calling him a “very capable and effective public servant.”

Bowser declined to say whether she specifically asked for Geldart’s resignation, saying only that she had a face-to-face conversation with him “and we agree that we both need to be focused on the big issues for D.C.”

Geldart, 53, came under fire last week after being accused of assaulting another man during an altercation in a Gold’s Gym parking lot in Arlington.

The man, who filed a criminal complaint, said Geldart grabbed him by the throat during a dispute about Geldart’s car door hitting his car, according to a police statement. Part of the Oct. 1 encounter was captured on surveillance video, which was obtained by Fox 5.

Geldart was placed on leave, but Bowser initially appeared to downplay the altercation, with her office releasing a statement saying, in part, “it sounds like something that happens to a lot of people — a dispute over something minor — and we hope it is resolved quickly.”

However, soon after, Geldart’s residency also came under scrutiny after the statement from Arlington police listed Geldart as a resident of Falls Church, Virginia.

High-level mayoral appointees in D.C. are required to establish residency in the District to keep their jobs.

WTOP’s news partner NBC Washington reported that Geldart rents an apartment in Southeast D.C. — where he’s registered to vote and pays taxes — although his family lives in Falls Church.

Bowser said last week her office was conducting a review of her deputy mayor related both to the reported assault and his residency status. On the matter of residency, the mayor said she was aware of cabinet members with second homes outside of the District or who rented homes in the District in the past.

Speaking Tuesday, Bowser said she didn’t think the law surrounding mayoral appointees’ residency requirements needed to be clarified but added, “When I hire people, it is with the expectation that they think what I think — that D.C. is the best city in the world — and that they will live here.”

She also clarified her earlier statement about the altercation involving a “minor” matter.

“All the reports suggest that it was over a possible door ding,” Bowser said. “So I would call that minor. Do I think the effects of that were minor? No, I think that was serious.”

She said both issues were “distracting from the job that we have to do.”

Important portfolio

Geldart had served as deputy mayor since January 2021, after stints as the director of the Department of Public Works and the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

As deputy mayor, Geldart oversaw a critical portfolio, including the Department of Corrections; the Office of Unified Communications, which acts as the District’s 911 call center; the Department of Forensic Sciences; and the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, which includes many of the District’s violence-interruption programs.

Bowser has tasked City Administrator Kevin Donahue with handling the duties of the deputy mayor for public safety. Donahue previously served as deputy mayor for public safety for nearly six years.

Donahue told reporters there are a number of proposed bills before the D.C. Council related to the public safety portfolio he expects to work with council members on, including a rewrite of the D.C. Criminal Code, and overhaul legislation dealing with the D.C. police department and the District’s crime lab.

“Legislatively, I think you’re going to see a lot of movement over the next two months, with some pretty important bills,” Donohue said.

Bowser said she expected to name a replacement for Geldart as part of the transition process into her third term. Bowser is up for reelection Nov. 8 but, after prevailing in the June Democratic primary, she is expected to sail to a third term in the general election.

Geldart is due to appear in Arlington General District Court Oct. 17 for an arraignment on the assault and battery charge, according to online court records.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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