Viet Shelton will be Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s new communications director, he says.
Starting Feb. 2, the 33-year-old University of Washington graduate will replace Jeff Reading, who announced last week he would be resigning Dec. 12 to take a job in the private sector.
Shelton has worked with Murray before and is currently a spokesman in Washington, D.C. for U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat who won reelection earlier this month.
The Auburn native’s resume includes stints with the mayor when Murray was a state representative and time under Mayor Greg Nickels and Gov. Christine Gregoire. He was just 20 years old when he helped Nickels win election in 2001.
“I’m really excited to come home and have an opportunity to work for a mayor I admire and respect a lot,” Shelton said Tuesday. “He was really the first elected official to give me an opportunity to do media relations.”
Murray’s communications staff has seen significant turnover during his first year in office.
His first press secretary, Rosalind Brazel, was let go in May after being reassigned in March. She had a temporary replacement until Jason Kelly was hired in August.
Brazel, an African-American woman, has filed a $1 million claim against the city accusing Murray of discrimination. The mayor has denied her allegations. Reading was her boss.
Shelton says the turmoil doesn’t worry him.
“I have personal anxiety about the scope and responsibility of the job because I know that in the mayor’s office the responsibilities are huge and the issues brought before that desk are incredibly important,” he said.”But I’ve spent time with the mayor before and we had a good working history.”
“With my experience knowing how this mayor works on a personal level and knowing how the mayor’s office works, I’m confident that I know what to expect moving forward,” Shelton added.
“I’m less concerned about what’s happened in the last year and more focused on how do we actually deliver on the agenda and the goals of the mayor over the next year.”
Shelton will make $120,000 a year, according to the mayor’s office.