Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden told a group of blacks last night that he will delay a decision on choosing a new county attorney for 15 days so that the names of five black lawyers can be submitted for consideration for the position.
Hayden, who met in a church in Woodmoor with more than 100 black county residents, also said he will seek candidates at predominantly black colleges in the area before he chooses a new director of the Department of the Environment.
The executive said County Attorney Arnold E. Jablon, a holdover from the Rasmussen administration, is still in the running along with two or three others for the top county legal position. He added that he has interviewed nine candidates for the environmental post, including one minority candidate, but has not made a final choice.
Robert Sheesley, the former environmental chief, was fired by Hayden.
Hayden said qualifications, not race would shape his decisions on the two posts.
He told the residents that he has no preconceived plan to involve blacks in county government, but that he is open to suggestions. He promised a second meeting in about six weeks to answer specific questions the group had about affirmative action, preservation of historic black communities, police protection and black participation in his administration.
The Rev. Emmett C. Burns, pastor of Rising Sun Baptist Church in the 2200 of St. Lukes Lane, where the meeting was held, said he would submit the five names to Hayden within 10 days.
Hayden so far has no black department heads. He fired Robert Nealy, the highest ranking black appointee on former County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen's staff when he took office nine weeks ago.
The meeting was sponsored by a group called the Coalition of African American Organizations, whose members tried to press Hayden for more specifics on appointing blacks, school programs for black students and his general commitment to helping their communities.
Several speakers, including Burns, freely admitted they did not support Hayden, a Republican, in the November election.
Hayden referred all questions on school matters to Dunbar Brooks, a school board member who was at the meeting.
The executive also told a questioner that he has appointed a black woman to the county planning board, but failed to recognize the appointee as the person he was responding to. "I think I met you once," Hayden said, smiling lamely after an aide informed him of the gaffe.