Amid assault charge, DC deputy mayor comes under scrutiny over where he lives

The DC government is reviewing whether DC Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice Christopher Geldart meets the requirement that High-level officials reside within the city limits, the DC mayor said Friday, after a police release regarding an assault allegation against the congressman listed his address as Virginia.

“I’m reviewing all of the issues that have come up this week,” DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said at a press conference. “We have a process here, and I’m following the process.”

Questions about Geldart’s residency emerged after a personal trainer alleged that Geldart grabbed him by the neck in the parking lot of a Gold’s Gym in Arlington on Saturday. A few days after the encounter, the trainer reported the matter to the police and filed a criminal complaint with the county magistrate’s office, alleging assault and battery.

A statement from Arlington County Police on the incident said Geldart lived in Falls Church, Virginia, prompting concern among community leaders that the deputy mayor was violating DC law. Under District Code, Upper Level executive appointees must be residents of the city while in office.

Geldart, who did not respond to requests for comment, is due in court Oct. 17 for an arraignment hearing on the criminal charge. He’s on leave, and Bowser said city administrator Kevin Donahue will oversee the city’s public safety agencies in the interim.

DC law allows the mayor to grant waivers of the residency requirement for “exceptional circumstances beyond the employee’s control,” but Bowser said Friday she doesn’t recall ever reviewing such a waiver for Geldart. She said she previously knew that Geldart had a house in Virginia where his family lived.

The mayor said “people can have a second home”, but stressed that “our expectation is that people will meet the residency requirements of the law.”

under the city code, a “resident” is defined as anyone who “maintains a place of residence in the District of Columbia as his real, regular, and principal place of occupancy.” Public records show DC addresses associated with Geldart. In 2019, when Bowser nominated him to be the director of the Department of Public Works, his address was listed as being in DC’s Ward 6, according to a document filed in the city’s legislative management system, first reported by the Washington City Paper.

The district has long struggled with questions about where government employees can live while serving the nation’s capital. In the 1980s, a law requiring city employees to reside in DC sparked outrage among the DC police and public school unions, which said the requirement hinders the city’s efforts to hire and retain the best workers. Decades later, former DC Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has come under fire for owning a home in Maryland while in office.

Kathy Patterson, the DC auditor who also served three terms on city council, said there have been periodic efforts to impose a residency requirement on all DC government employees, but they have always encountered resistance. resistance. DC’s latest legislation requires those earning more than $150,000 a year and hired after 2019 to reside in the city.

“There have been tensions since I’ve been in DC government,” Patterson said. “Does someone have to be a DC resident, or do you want to find the best person for the job, no matter where they live?”

DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said on Friday that he was concerned about Geldart’s residence.

“There is only one truth, and it needs to be sorted out, and there is a process to deal with a violation if there is a violation,” he said. “I think I’ll leave it at that.”

Bowser’s office initially played down the assault allegation against Geldart, saying in a statement that “it sounds like something that happens to a lot of people” and that “we hope this is resolved quickly.” But her tone changed on Friday, when the mayor said she had “some concerns about this interaction.”

Dustin Woodward, the 29-year-old personal trainer who said he was assaulted by Geldart, said the dispute began when the deputy mayor hit his girlfriend’s car with the door of his own vehicle. Woodward alleges the deputy mayor grabbed him by the throat, and video footage obtained by Fox 5 shows Geldart appearing to push him before Woodward pushed his arms away.

Woodward filed a criminal complaint against Geldart with the county magistrate’s office on Tuesday.

“There are a lot of mixed emotions,” Woodward said. “At the same time, the man must be able to feed his family. There’s a part of me that shouldn’t feel bad, but it does.

Meagan Flynn and Salvador Rizzo contributed to this report.

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