Rushern Baker replaces Prince George's County leadership
Within an hour of Rushern Baker taking over as Prince George's County Executive, the county has new leadership in nearly all of its key leadership posts.
Baker has replaced both Police Chief Roberto Hylton and Fire Chief Eugene Jones with interim department heads. Deputy Chief Mark Magaw has taken over for Hylton, and retired firefighter Mark Bashoor will fill in while a replacement for Jones is found. Six other interim department heads have been selected, as has a permanent leader for the county's human resources department.
Baker also named Gwen McCall, formerly the operations manager for the District of Columbia's office of planning, as his chief of staff.
"While the transition committee continues an extensive search for the best possible applicants, reviews the current state of county agencies, and seeks best practices to deliver a more effective and efficient county government, these experienced and talented individuals will be able provide the expertise and leadership needed during this interim period of transition," Baker said in a statement.
Such a housecleaning isn't unusual. When Baker's predecessor, the now-tainted Jack Johnson, took office, he fired many appointees of former county executive Wayne Curry.
Many of the interim appointments have long service in county government. Magaw has been an officer for 27 years, and Bashoor worked for the fire department for 23. Others have held various administrative posts in Prince George's County and the District. At least three have donated money to Baker's campaigns.
The dismissal of Hylton is the most immediately controversial. A coalition of community groups had been pressuring Baker to retain the chief, who has strongly condemned officers who were allegedly involved in a series of scandals that have struck the police department.
Here's a brief breakdown of the appointees.
- Gwen McCall, Chief of Staff - McCall previously served as the operations manager for D.C.'s office of planning. In his inaugural address, Baker said he hoped to copy elements of the District's Capstat program. McCall could help implement some of those changes. She also gave $5,300 to Baker's campaign, according to campaign finance records.
- Mark Magaw, Acting Police Chief - Magaw is a 27-year veteran of the force and has most recently headed the Bureau of Strategic Management. He previously was the commander of District 1, which covers the Hyattsville/College Park area.
- P. Michael Errico, Acting Chief Administrative Officer - Errico has held a string of high-level administrative jobs in Maryland's Washington suburbs. He started working for the county in 1971, and has previously led the public works department and was deputy chief administrative officer under former county executive Wayne Curry. While in that role, his wife was hired by Comcast while Errico was leading negotiations for the county with a rival cable company. Errico recused himself and left the job two months later. He later served as the deputy general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. After a dispute with the utility's board, he and the general manager were both fired in 2004. They challenged their firings in court, and the board eventually agreed to buy out their contracts. Errico has donated $2,200 to Baker's campaigns over the years.
- Mark Bashoor, Acting Fire Chief - Bashoor worked for the fire department for 23 years before retiring, and most recently was serving as the director of homeland security for Mineral County, West Virginia. Bashoor was considered for the county's top fire job when it opened up in 2004, but was not selected.
- Bradford Seamon, Acting Deputy Chief Administrative Officer - Unlike most of the other top appointees, Seamon appears to have limited government experience. He was CEO of a professional services firm for 20 years. He's donated more than $5,000 to Baker's campaigns over the years, and served as his campaign treasurer.
- Betty Hager Francis, Acting Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development - Francis was a well-liked department of public works head who mysteriously left after nine years on the job in 2004. Johnson wouldn't say if he had fired her, but the Washington Post reported that the consensus in Upper Marlboro was that she hadn't left voluntarily.
- Stephanye Redd Maxwell, Director, Office of Human Resources Management - A former deputy director of the office, Maxwell has also worked for county court system and served as a county attorney.
- Gail Francis, Acting Director, Office of Finance - Francis currently serves as the county's deputy director of finance.
- Thomas Himler, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget - Himler was previously the director of the office of management and budget under Johnson and also served as the county's lobbyist in Annapolis.
- Samuel Wynkoop, Acting Director, Department of Environmental Resources - Wynkoop is a former chief of staff for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who represents Prince George's, and was also the director of the department of environmental resources for more than eight years.
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