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Walsh creates chief of civic engagement as new cabinet post

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a new position in his Cabinet Wednesday, dubbed chief of civic engagement, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city services and to increase participation in local government.

The post will be held by Jerome Smith, a State House and City Hall veteran. Since spring, Smith has been Walsh's director of Neighborhood Services. In his new post, he will supervise just over 50 employees in Neighborhood Services and at the city's 24-hour hot line, as well as the City Hall To Go truck.

He will also advise the mayor on new ways to coordinate with residents and help resolve code enforcement issues and other problems. He will oversee the Problem Properties Task Force and a series of neighborhood walks designed to connect officials with citizens.


"We're thinking of new ways to engage residents," said Smith, 38, of Dorchester. "Each neighborhood is unique in the way they handle issues . . . There's a lot we can do with residents to get them more engaged and take more ownership of the neighborhoods."

Smith arrived at City Hall in 2002, as Mayor Thomas M. Menino's liaison to the gay community. He served as chief of staff for Councilor Michael P. Ross and as chief of staff for state Senate President Therese Murray.

"Jerome joined our administration in May, and in his role within Neighborhood Services, he has shown great leadership and creative thought in how we approach serving the public," Walsh said in a statement.

Smith does not get a pay raise. His annual salary will remain at $110,000.

Smith will be aided by Daniel R. Manning, who was appointed chief of staff for the Civic Engagement Cabinet. A veteran of the Walsh mayoral campaign, he has worked in Neighborhood Services since January. His salary remains at $76,000.

Manning, 31, lives in South Boston. It was his idea to spearhead the new neighborhood walks. He hopes to use political organizing techniques in city government, "like proactively going out and finding people and their problems, instead of waiting for them to come in."


Andrew Ryan can be reached at andrew.ryan@globe.com.