ATLANTIC CITY — Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Executive Director Christopher Howard announced during Tuesday’s public meeting he will step down.
Howard, who joined the authority in July 2016 as deputy executive director and was promoted to executive director in January 2017, was appointed by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
Matt Doherty, the authority’s current deputy executive director and mayor of Belmar, will succeed Howard no later than July 1.
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Doherty, 44, a Democrat, was appointed to the authority by Gov. Phil Murphy in March. His annual salary will increase from $150,000 to $175,000 once he assumes the new position. Doherty has been mayor of the Monmouth County borough for seven years.
Howard, 33, said he would “save the (farewell) speech for a later date” but thanked the board for its support since he took over the lead role last year.
“It’s been incredible,” he said of his tenure. “(It) certainly opened some new doors for me, and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity you all have given me.”
Under Howard, the CRDA eliminated 15 percent of its full-time positions after casino tax revenue was diverted from the authority. During Howard’s tenure, the CRDA also established an entertainment-retail district for the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, which the authority estimates will generate up to $2.5 million in annual revenue.
“Chris Howard certainly left his mark on Atlantic City, and his leadership and management will be sorely missed,” Chairman Robert Mulcahy said. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors. At the same time, the board welcomes Matt Doherty to the CRDA with open arms. We are excited to continue bringing a new vision to the city together.”
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Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, issued the following statement after Howard’s announcement: “Chris Howard’s thoughtful leadership over the past couple of years was a true asset to the CRDA and Atlantic City. I wish him well in his future endeavors, and I look forward to sitting down with Matt Doherty to chart a course of growth and prosperity for Atlantic City and Atlantic County.”
Howard previously worked in the state’s Authority Unit, which oversees New Jersey’s independent state and bi-state authorities and commissions, such as the CRDA. He also was an associate at the law firm of Parker McCay. The firm is owned by Philip Norcross, brother of Democratic powerbroker George Norcross.
Howard did not say what his next move will be, but a press release from the CRDA stated he would return to the private sector.