Deegan drops out of Ward 1 City Council race

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A longtime public servant says he is withdrawing from the Ward 1 City Council race in order to finish business as a city employee.

Thomas Deegan, manager of the city’s Problem Properties Unit, said he learned late last month that federal law prohibits political activity by officials who oversee federal grant dollars.

Deegan’s department is slated to manage a $5.6 million grant from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development initiative that helps local governments acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties. The funding is expected to arrive next week.

“I feel I have a moral obligation to the city to make sure this program is successful,” Deegan said today in an interview with the Northeast Beat.

While city rules allow Deegan to take a leave of absence during a campaign, the federal Hatch Act would require Deegan to resign his position.

Deegan has been in charge of the city’s Problem Properties Unit for four years. Before that he worked for the fire department close to 30 years.

“I could quit my job and focus on running for office, but what if you don’t get elected? I’m a Northeast born-and-raised guy. Rather than jeopardizing not being able to do anything helpful, I thought I could be more effective in my current role with the city,” Deegan said.

First Ward City Council Member Paul Ostrow is not seeking re-election. Other candidates running for the open seat include neighborhood activists Doron Clark and Kevin Reich and City Council aide Jose Velez.

“The bottom line is it wouldn’t be smart for me to quit my job,” Deegan said. “It was a hard decision, but there’s always four years from now, too.”

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