Mayor Elorza’s chief of staff leaving City Hall to launch consulting firm

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Another top aide to Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is leaving City Hall.

Tony Simon, who has served as the mayor’s chief of staff since Elorza took office last year, confirmed Tuesday he plans to launch a government and business consulting firm in the coming weeks. He’ll remain with the mayor’s office until the end of August.

A spokesman for Elorza said Nicole Pollock, the city’s director of policy and innovation, will replace Simon as chief of staff.

“It’s been an honor to help Mayor Elorza build his administration,” Simon said in a statement. “The mayor’s energy and commitment to building strong and vibrant neighborhoods is contagious and I am thankful to him for the opportunity to serve with such a talented and dedicated team of individuals each day. I am excited to build my new business and look forward to continuing to be an advocate for the city.”

Simon’s departure follows chief operating officer Brett Smiley’s announcement that he is leaving the administration to be Gov. Gina Raimondo’s chief of staff beginning Sept. 6. Simon and Smiley each earn $132,600 annually.

A University of Rhode Island graduate, Simon, 35, has spent his entire adult life working in politics. He joined Elorza’s staff after working nine years for U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, first as a deputy campaign manager and later as the senator’s deputy district director. In 2010, he served as the Rhode Island Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign director.

The transition to City Hall wasn’t always easy. Despite Simon’s popularity within the state’s political class, Elorza has struggled to build relationships at the State House and with the City Council. At the same time, many city departments that reported to Simon – including police, schools and public works – have improved efficiencies over the last two years.

Most recently, Simon has led the mayor’s effort to place a $40-million infrastructure bond question in front of Providence voters on the Nov. 8 ballot. The administration and the City Council have not yet come to terms on how to spend the money, but both sides say they are hopeful an agreement can be reached.

Simon, who records show purchased www.simonconsults.com on July 20, is leaving the mayor’s office with two significant clients already in place. Whitehouse, his former boss, and Congressman David Cicilline.

“I’ve seen Tony’s ability firsthand and I know that his wide range of political and field experience will serve me and the rest of his clients well,” Whitehouse said. “I look forward to working with Tony in this new capacity.”

Cicilline, who is seeking re-election this fall, called Simon “one of the most widely respected political and strategic minds in the state.”

“The depth and breadth of his knowledge and ability will be a tremendous asset to my campaign and to all of his clients,” Cicilline said. “I’m excited that he is a part of my senior consulting team for this election.”

Continue the discussion on FacebookDan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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