K.J.'s chief of staff leaving City Hall to launch marijuana business

It’s been rumored for a while that Mayor Kevin Johnson’s chief of staff, Daniel Conway, would be transitioning out of that role, and that former Sen. Richard Pan director Crystal Strait would be taking over.

What we didn’t know was that Conway would be jumping into the marijuana business.

Here’s an mass email from Conway, complete with mayor-wasn’t-running-for-re-election-after-Strong-Mayor-failure talking points:

Dear friends,

After three incredible years in the Mayor’s office, I’m proud to announce that I’ve found an opportunity worth jumping at and that this will be my last week in City Hall. 

Following the defeat of Measure L, it was clear that Mayor Johnson wasn’t going to run for a third term. At the beginning of the year, the Mayor encouraged all of his staff to start thinking about their future and make a move if/ when the right opportunity presented itself. Since then, I’ve seen several of my colleagues move on to great opportunities. My goal was to stay until the end of this year to ensure that OMKJ was set up for the Mayor’s final year.

Mayor Johnson is focused on finishing strong. He’s built a fantastic team and still has priorities to fulfill. Everyone knows the Mayor isn’t going to take his foot off the gas while he’s still in office. Having Crystal Strait take over as COS (see the release below that’s going out today) is key because her experience – local, state, and national – and approach has ensured that there’s a smooth hand-off between her and I. Crystal understands the Mayor’s vision and desire to sprint to the finish.

As for me, I’m excited to be plunging into the emerging marijuana industry. I’m partnering with an entrepreneur/ executive named Ross Haley, who is the CEO of General Hydroponics, on a new venture that will invest in and operate medical and recreational marijuana businesses. We’re planning a formal announcement and launch of our new partnership early next year, so stay tuned to more on that.

Most of all, I’d like to thank everyone of you for making my 3 years in the Mayor’s office unforgettable and impactful. As a community, we have accomplished a lot and should be very proud but there remains much to be done. I’m grateful for having been a part of our recent successes and even more excited to see what the future holds for all of us and our city.

Thanks for everything,


In an interesting twist, Haley’s company was bought up earlier this year by Scotts Miracle-Gro. The mayor’s wife, Michelle Rhee, is on the Miracle-Gro board.

The big question now: Will Conway’s new pot venture advertise in SN&R …

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.