Chirlane McCray’s City Hall Role Slowly Takes Shape

Chirlane McCray introducing her new Chief of Staff Rachel Noerdlinger.

Chirlane McCray introducing her new Chief of Staff Rachel Noerdlinger.

New York City’s new First Lady, Chirlane McCray, will not receive a salary for her work at City Hall, the mayor’s office said this evening.

However, her new chief of staff, former Al Sharpton aide Rachel Noerdlinger, will make $170,000 a year. She will be based in the Office of the Mayor, and will be paid as a City Hall employee, the office said.

Other details on Ms. McCray’s staff, office, and issue portfolio have not yet been determined, but she is not expected to have a large staff footprint, the office said.

Ms. Noerdlinger’s appointment was announced today at Mr. Sharpton’s annual Martin Luther King Day rally, where both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Ms. McCray spoke and congratulated Ms. Noerdlinger on her new job. But later, Mr. de Blasio seemed reticent to discuss specifics of the arrangement and the roles both women will play in his slowly-growing administration.

“Over time we’re going to have more announcements about specific areas that Chirlane will focus on, but today we simply wanted to make clear that she’s bringing in a great chief of staff to help her,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters outside the Harlem rally.

At the time, he declined to say where Ms. McCray’s office would be located or how much Ms. Noerdlinger would be paid. (His office later provided some specifics.)

“Everything as it’s ready will be announced. So what we’re announcing today is who her chief of staff will be, and then as we a have other development, we’ll announce that,” said the mayor, explaining that her role would likely mimic that of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s ex-wife. “We utilized the model from the last person who had a similar role, which was Donna Hanover, who obviously was very active as chief of staff. So we looked at how her staffing was done and we’ve tried to base it on that model.”

Mr. de Blasio also brushed off the added scrutiny his family has faced as a result of his wife and children’s very visible presence both on the campaign trail and in the mayor’s office.

“We’ve talked about this a lot over the last year. We are a very close and united family. We also happen to be a family that’s been involved in public work for a long, long time,” he said, noting Ms. McCray’s history of being “a very vigorous activist” and the fact that the pair met at City Hall. His daughter, Chiara, got her first taste of politics when Mr de Blasio first ran for school board in 1999 and campaigned outside her school.

“At the age of four, she was already leafleting. Our children stayed overnight at the White House during Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which was a very gracious act by First Lady Clinton at that time. So I mean to say that this has been the water we swim in. This has been our lives. And we’re comfortable with that. And yes, of course, we know that some scrutiny comes with it. We think people should be respectful and mindful that we’re still a family and everyone should understand that line. But we expect a certain level of scrutiny,” Mr. de Blasio said.

“Chirlane is my partner in all I do,” he added. “I’ve said that for the last year. I’m proud of that fact. And it’s going to allow us to do a lot of good for the people of New York City.”

A Quinnipiac poll released last week found most New Yorkers do not think a mayor’s spouse should have a major role shaping public policy, with 36 percent thinking they should have a minor role and 30 percent saying they should have no role at all.