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Albuquerque's assistant mayor splits after five months

KOAT Albuquerque logo KOAT Albuquerque 4/9/2019
a screen shot of a man in a suit and tie: Gary Lee © Provided by Hearst Television, Inc. Gary Lee

For several years, Albuquerque native Gary Lee was just a few steps away from President Barack Obama.

He was one of the president's advisers and worked to help pass the Affordable Care Act.

After Obama left office, Lee, a graduate of Eldorado High School, was just a few steps away from Mayor Tim Keller.

"It was kind of an opportunity to have an individual who was highly qualified who could do some administrative tasks,” said Santiago Chavez, Keller’s chief of staff.

The mayor appointed Lee assistant mayor.

It was the first time in the city's history someone held that role and it came with a $75,000 salary.

That salary had been criticized by at least one city councilor.

"There are a lot of positions. We have an administration now (that) we have never had as long as I have been a city councilor and that is kind of worrisome,” said City Councilor Brad Winter.

When Lee was appointed, the mayor's office sent out a press release saying he was going to bring invaluable experience to the city. But Lee didn't gain much experience in his new position.

Within five months, Lee resigned.

“He said he had an opportunity to do something in Washington D.C.,” Santiago said. “He really didn't disclose."

Chavez said Lee's role was to organize the mayor's office, work on the mayor's initiatives and fill in for him at speaking engagements.

"It is a very important position for a mayor who works as hard as the mayor does to help coordinate the administrative functions of the office,” Chavez said.

Target 7 made requests to speak to Lee and the mayor's office.

A spokesperson for Mayor Keller said, "We spoke to Gary and he doesn't want to comment.”

Chavez said there are no plans to replace Lee. Instead, the city has hired an administrative assistant for the mayor who will also make about $75,000 a year.

READ MORE:Albuquerque's assistant mayor splits after five months

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