Mayor Bill de Blasio Saturday announced his pick for sanitation commissioner: a woman who began her career there two decades ago as an unpaid intern and served as an environmental official under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Kathryn Garcia, a mother of two who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is the chief operating officer of the city's Department of Environmental Protection, where she oversees water supply, sewer operations and wastewater.
As sanitation commissioner, Garcia will be in charge not only of trash collection, but also recycling, snowplowing, road salting and catching illegal dumping.
Garcia will succeed John Doherty, who tendered his resignation late last week and will leave March 28. Doherty began his career with the department as a trash collector in 1960.
De Blasio had asked Doherty, 75, to stay on through the snow season -- which turned out to be one of the worst on record.
"This guy is a New York hero," de Blasio said of Doherty, who did not attend yesterday's announcement.
Garcia, 44, will be the city's 43rd sanitation commissioner and the second woman to hold the post, a spokesman said. Emily Lloyd, hired by David Dinkins in 1992, was the first. Last month, de Blasio named Lloyd his DEP commissioner.
Garcia and de Blasio affirmed their support for two controversial Bloomberg-era programs: a waste-transfer station set to be built on East 91st Street in Manhattan, and a plan to force New Yorkers to separate food scraps from household trash for composting.
According to department spokesman Vito Turso, about 3 percent of the city's sanitation workers -- 200 out of 6,000 -- are women, a statistic Garcia hopes to improve.
"There are quite a few women in the Department of Sanitation now, who are doing their best every day and meeting all of the demands of this job -- and it is not an easy job to pick up tons of garbage every day," she said.
Turso said the first female sanitation worker came on the job in 1986.