Council Aides Range From Wife To Former Candidate Four New Faces Appear Behind The Scenes

December 10, 1990|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

A good-night kiss was all the pay Anna Bachman ever got for answering the phone and fielding complaints during her husband's first 18 years on the County Council.

Now, George Bachman is back on the council after an eight-year hiatus.

His wife is still answering the phones and fielding complaints, only this time she's collecting a salary along with her nightly buss.

Anna Bachman is one of four new legislative aides working for four new County Council members. The others are Sharon Chewning, aide to Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn; Susan Pogue, aide to Councilman Carl G.

"Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena; and Lynn Maddox, who is working for Councilwoman Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold.

Chances are, you won't be seeing their names much in newspaper headlines. Council aides work behind the scenes, yielding publicity -- the bad as well as the good -- to their elected bosses.

Council members are the first to tell you that their aides work just as hard as they do. At last week's County Council inauguration, for example, Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, told the crowd she never could have managed during her last two council terms without her longtime aide, Beth Slikker.

When people call for help or information, the aide is often their first link to county government. And when citizens have an ax to grind over an incorrect water bill, potholes in the road or a zoning decision that didn't go their way, the council aide usually bears the brunt of the anger.

"She's the one who took all the abuse off of irate callers," George Bachman said, remembering how his wife handled phone calls at home -- for nothing -- from 1964 to 1982. Bachman had an official aide then, his wife recalls, "but she just did all the typing."

Bachman is the second 1st District councilman in a row to hire his wife as his legislative assistant. Theodore J. Sophocleus' wife, Alice, worked for him during his two terms and also served as campaign manager in his recent unsuccessful bid for county executive.

The Bachmans, who met at a crab feast in Pasadena, have been married for 40 years. Even after all that time, Anna Bachman is thrilled to be working with him. She says she always enjoyed political life.

This job came along at just the right time, she says. With their four children grown and seven grandchildren all in school, "My life was just open now for something else. I am not a soap opera-watcher. I have to be active."

Like Bachman, Pogue, a 41-year-old Pasadena resident, is no stranger to the political scene.

A longtime community activist and Democrat, she ran against former four-term Councilman Edward C. "Buddy" Ahern in the primary before withdrawing and throwing her support behind Democrat Thomas C. Henderson of Riviera Beach.

Henderson lost the primary to Ahern by 800 votes. Even though she withdrew and spent only $30 on the campaign, Pogue garnered 831 votes. "I could have done a whole lot of damage if I had $100 to spend," she said.

After the primary, Pogue chose to cross party lines and support Holland rather than Ahern, whom she believes pandered to special-interest groups and was not available to his constituents. "When it came down to looking at either Ahern or a Republican -- Holland -- I wasn't looking at party. I was looking at the person."

Pogue publicly supported Holland during the general election campaign.

After he won, she said, he asked her to be his aide.

"Dutch doesn't mind my being a Democrat," she said. "We're both here to work together and do the best for the 3rd District.

The two other new aides, Chewning and Maddox, are new to the political scene.

On Thursday, her first day on the job, Maddox said the first thing she did was read "Citizen's Guide to Government Services" so she would have some idea of how county government works.

Maddox, 39, is married and has spent the last 10 years taking care of her two girls, ages 6 and 10. She said she and her husband, Ed, were not politically active until a friend introduced them to Diane Evans about 1 years ago.

The couple worked for Evans during her campaign, but Maddox says she was shocked when the new councilwoman asked her to work for her. "She came to me completely out of the blue. I had no idea she was considering me for the position. I didn't know what was involved."

Maddox is looking at her new job as a "great learning experience" but states emphatically that she has no political ambitions.

Chewning, 25, also said she's happy to be working for a politician but has no desire to be one. She aspires to a career in public relations instead.

A Hanover resident, Chewning worked as an assistant editor for Maryland Pennysaver, a shopper circulated to 400,000 residents in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and on the Eastern Shore, before she submitted her resume to Middlebrooks.

She said she and her parents, who are active in the Democratic Party, have known Middlebrooks, now 35, since he was 19.

Like the three veteran council aides, the new assistants will work full time. Bachman and Pogue will be working out of offices at the Arundel Center North in Glen Burnie; Chewning will spend two days in Glen Burnie and three at the Arundel Center in Annapolis; and Maddox will work in Annapolis.

Chewning and Bachman have been hired at $31,000 salaries. The Republican council members have chosen to pay their aides a lower salary on a contractual basis.

Maddox will make $24,000, while Pogue will earn about $20,000.

Pogue says she isn't upset that she's making $11,000 less than some of her colleagues. "It's important for me to prove my worth," she said. "I am not worrying about what everyone else is making."

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