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Mayor Ted Wheeler’s newest communications director is out—after one week on the job.
Wheeler announced the hire of Los Angeles-based reality TV producer Lennox Wiseley on August 11, three months after Wheeler’s previous communications director, Jim Middaugh, resigned. In a press statement at the time, Wheeler described Wiseley as a “complete, results-oriented, strategic and collaborative communications professional.”
Wiseley’s first day of work was Monday, August 23.
Yet, as Wheeler’s deputy director Sara Morrissey confirmed Thursday, Wiseley “has made the difficult decision to step down from her role as Communications Director and focus on her family.” Wiseley’s last day on the city’s payroll was Monday, August 30.
In a statement sent to the Mercury, Wiseley said:
“The highly charged political environment surrounding City Hall went beyond expectations. My family’s happiness and safety is my first priority, and, as such, I made the difficult decision not to join the team as the Director of Communications.”
Wiseley did choose a particularly difficult time to start the job: Her first day followed a weekend of violent clashes between right-wing extremist groups and antifascist groups that elicited little response from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), which Wheeler oversees as police commissioner.
She also entered the office as another communications staffer for Wheeler made a cold exit. Tim Becker, Wheeler’s former Public Information Officer, left the position August 20, the Friday before Wiseley’s first day at work. A screen-cap of a Facebook post by Becker on his last day, shared by photojournalist Nathan Howard, showed Becker celebrating his departure by calling Portland reporters “entitled, inconsiderate and rude media types.”
The news comes on the heels of a wave of departures from Wheeler’s office, including top advisors who oversaw Wheeler’s police reform and homelessness initiatives. Several key positions remain vacant.
It’s unclear if Wiseley has yet relocated to Portland from Los Angeles for the job.
Previous to accepting the communications position, Wiseley worked as a producer for numerous reality TV shows, including The Millionaire Matchmaker, Little People Big World, and DC Cupcakes. It’s not clear if Wiseley had any experience in politics prior to this career move.
According to Morrisey: “[Wiseley] leaves with the utmost respect for the Mayor and City of Portland employees.”