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Phoenix CFO Named To Take Charge Of D.C. Finances

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is tapping Jeff DeWitt, chief financial officer of Phoenix, Ariz. to take over the same post in Washington.

DeWitt, who would take over for retiring CFO Natwar Gandhi, says he's used to challenges. He took over as the Phoenix CFO in 2009, right around the time the city's finances took a nose dive during the great recession.

"Suddenly you got 25 percent cuts that are required, a $277 million budget deficit, and all the challenges that go with that, so you learn a lot through that process," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

If confirmed, DeWitt will deal with different problems in D.C.

The District's economy and real estate market have been strong for years, but the CFO's office has suffered a string of scandals during that time. Those have included a case in which an employee in the tax office stole $50 million dollars and the latest controversy involving the sale of tax liens.

The D.C. CFO position is also unique in other ways. Its independent from the mayor, there's Congress to worry about and as D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) reminded Dewitt at the press conference, there are Evans' colleagues.

"And maybe the hardest part is to deal with the D.C. Council. You have 13 members... a lively, energetic, sometimes difficult group to deal with," he said.

DeWitt will get a chance to engage the Council during his confirmation hearing, which has been scheduled for next month.

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