Christopher J. Shorter, Baltimore’s first city administrator, has told other City Hall officials he is leaving for a new job in Northern Virginia that begins in January, according to multiple senior officials with direct knowledge of the situation who are not authorized to comment on the record.

His departure is a standout in an administration riddled with high-profile exits. Shorter was hired by Mayor Brandon Scott in December 2020 to improve city agencies’ performance and abilities to serve residents, a charge he likens to transformation work.

Shorter did not respond to a request for comment.

The city officials speaking on background say that Shorter has told them about his plans to take another job.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

After The Banner reported his plans to depart, Scott’s senior director of communications Monica Lewis said that he is a finalist for a role in Prince William County. The new executive must be approved of by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, which has not voted on the role.

The county has had an interim county executive since January, following the retirement of former county executive Chris Martino. Rachel Johnson, the acting communications director for Prince William County, said the board has not yet appointed a new executive.

In late March, Prince William County officials awarded a $70,000 contract to Polihire Strategy Corp. to find the next county executive. The headhunting firm’s proposed timeline for finding a replacement was about six months.

“I’m sure people will begin to wonder about turnover but it’s very clear that Mayor Scott and this administration view it as an honor when other municipalities tap talent that is here,” Lewis said. “We firmly believe that it’s a testament to the strides that are being taken in the administration. People are not picked for opportunities like this unless they are doing great work.”

After winning the 2020 Democratic mayoral primary, then-City Council President Scott introduced a charter amendment to enshrine the city administrator position in city charter. Pointing to the majority of Maryland counties that have similar positions, he argued that the position would bring Baltimore into the 21st century and improve basic operations. Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

As the inaugural officeholder, Shorter built up an apparatus of personnel and new policies. He directly oversees several critical departments, including finance and human resources, and manages the heads of agencies spanning from the Department of Public Works to the Fire Department.

He earned $255,000 last year, making him the second-highest paid city employee behind Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. Scott will earn just under $200,000 as mayor this year.

Scott’s administration has been marked by high turnover on the cabinet level.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Sunny Schnitzer and communications director Cal Harris departed City Hall in the winter for new jobs. Scott’s chief of staff Michael Huber left to join the government relations team for Johns Hopkins University, citing burnout and a desire to spend more time with family. He has yet to be replaced.

Several senior employees who reported to Shorter have also exited. Former deputy mayor Ted Carter resigned from his role in August, after a suspension following a human resources investigation into his treatment of employees. Two former deputy city administrators, Chichi Nyagah-Nash and Daniel Ramos, left for new jobs.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Baltimore Banner reporter Hallie Miller contributed to this article.

emily.sullivan@thebaltimorebanner.com

Emily Sullivan covers Baltimore City Hall. She joined the Banner after three years at WYPR, where she won multiple awards for her radio stories on city politics and culture. She previously reported for NPR’s national airwaves, focusing on business news and breaking news.

More From The Banner