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In less than three years, Stacy Richardson has gone from Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's campaign manager to taking the reins in the top spot of his administration.

Berke announced Friday that he had appointed Richardson as his next chief of staff, replacing Travis McDonough, who is waiting for final Senate approval for a federal judgeship.

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Stacy Richardson
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In a prepared statement, Berke said Richardson's leadership as his senior advisor for more than two years helped make his decision easy.

"Stacy has a thorough understanding of the policies that make citizens' lives better and drive our city forward," he said. "This knowledge, coupled with strong leadership skills and an unparalleled commitment to community service, make Stacy the obvious choice for this role."

She also becomes the first female appointed to the position in Chattanooga, according to the mayor's office, and will be paid $110,000 annually starting Monday. While McDonough was paid more than $128,000, Berke's spokeswoman Lacie Stone said the difference in pay is because Richardson has less experience.

Since Aug. 21, Richardson has been acting as the interim chief of staff after McDonough took a paid leave of absence.

A year ago, McDonough was nominated to the U.S. District Court of Eastern Tennessee to replace Judge Curtis Collier, who recently took senior status. After McDonough used all of his accrued personal time off, he began taking unpaid leave on Oct. 2, according to the mayor's office. McDonough is still a city employee who is on the city's insurance policy, but Stone said he is paying out of pocket for his benefits.

Since Berke took office in April 2013, there has been major turnover among his top administrators.

Berke has appointed three chief operating officers, whose main job is to create the city budget, but each resigned to take a job in the private sector. After Brent Goldberg resigned in September, the mayor appointed Goldberg's deputy David Carmody as the interim.

Stone said the mayor's office is still looking for the right candidate to permanently fill that position.

Since Richardson has worked in the mayor's office, she has overseen major city initiatives such as implementing the city's innovation district and a program to start a baby university to educate families. She also played a key role in creating the city's new budget using the budgeting-for-outcomes approach, according to city officials.

Before Richardson was hired to lead Berke's campaign for mayor, she interned at the now-closed Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies, a local research firm.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick Smith at jsmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

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