Mayor Martin J. Walsh is shaking up a few departments in his administration with several new appointments — including the assignment of a longtime city official who will be charged with organizing services around the neighborhood most affected by the opioid epidemic.
William “Buddy” Christopher, the head of inspectional services for five years, will become a special adviser to the mayor, focusing on organizing services around Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue, the Walsh administration announced Thursday. The area is largely known as “Methadone Mile” because of its association with recovery services.
“We can use all the help that we can get,” said Stephen S. Fox, a South End community leader, noting that Christopher’s specialty as a certified architect could help officials rethink the area’s design and use for those in need.
“The only way we’re going to be able to wrap our arms around this crisis at Mass and Cass is a concentrated effort to redesign, repurpose, and reimagine what is there and how it serves people,” Fox said.
Christopher had previously worked in that area to coordinate services following the 2014 closure of the bridge to Long Island, where many of those services had been provided, the mayor’s office said.
Dion Irish, a 25-year city employee, most recently serving as commissioner of elections, will succeed Christopher as head of inspectional services. That department is responsible for administering and enforcing building and sanitation regulations. As elections commissioner, Irish oversaw 11 elections, including the city’s first two early voting cycles. He had previously worked for 17 years in inspectional services, where he was in charge of housing inspections.
Eneida Tavares, a senior data analyst, will serve as interim elections commissioner, the mayor said. She previous worked as an assistant city clerk overseeing elections in Newton.
Gregory Rooney, commissioner of property management for Boston, was also named interim commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department, replacing outgoing commissioner Gina Fiandaca, who took a job in Austin, Texas.
As interim transportation commissioner, Rooney will oversee the city’s transportation network, accounting for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, and the way residents use the public transportation system.
Walsh also tapped Indira Alvarez as interim commissioner for property management. Alvarez was the chief of staff for inspectional services, was assistant commissioner, and also served in housing inspection.
“The work of each of these departments is crucial to our overall mission of serving the residents of Boston in the best way we can, and through these new appointments I look forward to our continued work ahead to continue making progress on our goals,” Walsh said.