Contra Costa Times: New Richmond Mayor Tom Butt announces youthful staff

blogimage.jpgRICHMOND -- Mayor-elect Tom Butt announced his three-person staff Tuesday, tapping Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia's longtime chief of staff to head his office, along with two aides in their mid-20s.

Terrance Cheung, who has worked in Gioia's office for about 14 years, will become Butt's chief of staff when he is sworn in next month. 

The other two staff members will be Alex Knox, who served as Butt's campaign coordinator, and David Gray, a former Richmond City Council intern who now works as the poverty to opportunity coordinator for the Louisiana Budget Project in Baton Rouge. 

Butt, a 70-year-old architect who has been on the City Council since the 1990s, said it's no accident his new team is relatively young. Cheung is the graybeard at 44 years old while Gray and Knox are both 26. 

"I had hoped to have a combination of young people willing to work hard and be creative and innovative," Butt said. 

"I think we have a good, diverse combination." 

In a news release, Butt noted that Knox is a fluent Spanish speaker. Gray, who is African-American, holds a master's degree in public policy from UC Berkeley, where he received the Goldman Fellowship for his academic performance. 

Knox will serve as Butt's director of community relations. Gray's job is described as "director of projects and programs." 

Cheung, a former television news journalist and the husband of Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus, said Tuesday he is sad to leave Gioia but excited to join the mayor's office.

"I'm looking forward to helping engage with the community and creating better partnerships with the city and county," Cheung said. 

Butt said he has no qualms about having a chief of staff who is married to his city's police chief.

"The mayor's office has no supervisorial authority over the police chief," Butt said. 

While Richmond's city charter gives authority over employees to the city manager and the mayor is only one vote among a seven-member council, the mayor's office has a staff budget of about $209,000. 

"I'm ecstatic about having three staff members to help advance my priorities," Butt said, identifying those priorities as development, environment and quality-of-life issues. 

Cheung's salary is $84,403 while Gray and Knox will make $73,354 and $50,376, respectively. 

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726. Follow him at

Reposted from the Contra Costa Times.

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