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Herrington leaving his environmental post for new job in Virginia

Monday, June 21, 2021 by Amy Smith

After 25 years with the city of Austin, Environmental Officer Chris Herrington is retiring and taking a new leadership position in Fairfax, Va.

Herrington, who’ll be moving east with his fiancée, Kimberly Horndeski, will serve as director of public works and environmental services for Fairfax County. July 2 will mark his last day with the city, where he stepped into the role of environmental officer in 2018 following the retirement of Chuck Lesniak. The environmental officer is under the purview of the Watershed Protection Department.

Herrington brought boundless energy to the position and was recognized as a forward-thinking steward of the environment.

He made his last appearance before the Environmental Commission on Wednesday and urged members to stay mindful of the powers they hold. “You have a voice and you’re empowered by code to advise the mayor and Council, to advise departments, and to hold departments accountable to ensure that the environmental polices of our wonderful city are implemented.” He asked that commissioners also hold accountable the applicants who bring cases before them to ensure they are being “fully transparent with you.”

Acknowledging the number of weighty issues the city is grappling with, Herrington said, “We can’t make the environment suffer … we really must take that long vision to ensure that what has made this place so wonderful for us continues to be available for the people who will live here tomorrow and for generations to come.”

Addressing the city’s future water needs and the ongoing implementation of a sustainable water plan for the next century, Herrington asked commissioners to keep their eyes on Austin’s future. “Don’t feel bound by the traditions of the past,” he said. “Please open your minds and look at that big picture to make sure we’re not leaving anything on the table.”

Herrington lauded the work of his teammates – newly named Deputy Environmental Officer Liz Johnston, Kaela Champlin and Atha Phillips, who will carry much of the workload until a successor is named. Meantime, Herrington said, Watershed is undergoing a reorganization, which the commission will be briefed on at its July meeting.

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