Planned Parenthood executive is Rybak’s new chief of staff

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Mayor R.T. Rybak last week announced the hiring of Tina Smith as his new chief of staff.

Smith, currently executive vice president for external relations for Planned Parenthood in Minnesota and the Dakotas, succeeds Deputy Mayor David Fey, who is taking a post in the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) agency.

“Tina Smith is well-known as a dedicated, hardworking, and energetic leader. She has the experience and skills to help us move forward as we build a great city for the future,” Rybak said in a statement released by his office.

A longtime DFL political strategist, the 47-year-old Smith worked for former Met Council chairman Ted Mondale and was the director of Walter Mondale’s 2002 U.S. Senate campaign.

Fey, an architect by trade, will work under CPED director Lee Sheehy as a senior policy manager after a four-year stint as deputy mayor. Rybak called Fey’s leadership “a tremendous asset,” noting his role in the controversial merging of the city’s planning and development agencies. “It is only fitting that David play a key leadership role in the next phase of that important work,” Rybak said.

Fey and Smith will begin their new jobs January 30.

Shifting the key post from a deputy mayor to a chief of staff does not represent any real structural change in the mayor’s office, said Rybak press secretary Jeremy Hanson. “It’s just a more accurate and appropriate description” of the job. Rybak’s predecessor, Sharon Sayles Belton did not fill the deputy mayor position during her eight years in office, opting instead for a chief of staff. Don Fraser, who preceded Sayles Belton, worked with a deputy mayor.

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