WASHINGTON -- An African-American utility executive from Texas will be nominated by President Bush as the No. 2 man at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the President's choice is cleared by the Senate, Alphonso Jackson will be Deputy Secretary under HUD honcho Mel Martinez. Minorities have led the agency in the past, but never before have they occupied the two top spots.
The White House also has announced several other appointments, and the Mortgage Bankers Association has picked Jonathan Kempner as its top staffer.
Kempner will come to the MBA, which has been without an executive vice president for almost a year, from the National Multi-Housing Council, an association of apartment owners, managers and builders which he has headed for 14 years. He replaces Paul Reid, who resigned last June.
Kempner is a Stanford law school graduate who has previously served as vice president and general counsel at the Oxford Development Corp. in Bethesda, Md., and as assistant director and general counsel to the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., the non-profit group responsible for redeveloping Washington, D.C.'s main boulevard.
Back at the White House, meanwhile, the President intends to name an old hand at HUD as Assistant Secretary for Housing and FHA Commissioner.
Between 1989 and 1993, during Dubya's Dad's presidency, John Weicher served as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research. He also was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs at HUD from 1975-'77. Between those two gigs, he served as Director of Economic Policy at the Office of Management and Budget. During his tenure at HUD, Weicher helped design a recapitalization program that saved the Federal Housing Administration from possible bankruptcy. Since 1993, he has been a senior fellow and director of urban studies at the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank.
Also on the President's list of nominees for HUD are Roy Bernardi as Assistant Secretary for Community Planning. He is currently the major of Syracuse, N.Y. Jackson served as President of the Dallas Housing Authority from 1989 to 1996 before taking a job with a utility company that was later merged into American Electric Power Corp., a multi-national energy company based in Columbus, Ohio. He currently runs AEP's Texas division.
Prior to moving to Texas, he held positions as director of public safety for the city of St. Louis, Mo., executive director of the St. Louis Housing Authority and director of the Department of Public and Assisted Housing in Washington, D.C.