Adolfo Carrion Comes Back to NYC, but Maybe Not the Way He Wanted To


Former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrion, who left city politics to become the first director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs, is coming home via another federal gig. Carrion will be leaving his current job to become the regional director of New York and New Jersey for HUD.

When Carrion took the job as Obama’s Urban Czar, he did so under wide suspicion that he would return to electoral politics in the city someday. At the time, he was wrapping up his second term as Bronx borough president, and was widely considered a future mayoral candidate.

The selection of Carrión to start up the new post, coupled with the appointment of former New York housing commissioner Shaun Donovan to head up HUD, were seen as signals that the Obama administration was serious about dealing with urban affairs. But it hasn’t really worked out, and Carrión (and his office) have wallowed without focus or visibility. “The office’s obscurity is a product of an administration that has been preoccupied with other things,” writes Politico’s Ben Smith. The hope for Carrión that he could return home, having served prestigiously on the national stage, has long been over.

Becoming HUD’s regional director is seen as a lateral move, at best. Smith writes that “it’s a post that makes some sense as a stepping stone to local office. The current New York City Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio, held it under Clinton.” The New York Observer says the changes “suggest a step down for Mr. Carrión, since the regional director job, while well-regarded in the housing policy world, is generally held by those with less political experience.” Also citing the case of de Blasio, the Observer notes that his
tenure ended with him “vaulting into a spot on the City Council.” But as Carrión left the council almost a decade ago to become Bronx Beep, that’s probably not the path forward he’s seeking.