Secretary of Transportation O. James Lighthizer today went outside the port community to choose one of his former employees in Anne Arundel County as director of the Maryland Port Administration.
He picked Adrian Teel, 47, Anne Arundel's chief administrative officer, over 16 other candidates because of his managing ability, Lighthizer said.
"He is a proven first-rate manager and a good communicator," Lighthizer said.
Most of the other applicants were members of the local port community, said a spokeswoman for Lighthizer.
Teel will replace Brendan "Bud" O'Malley, a long-time maritime official who resigned in April. O'Malley said he wanted to step down after two years in Baltimore to pursue work in the private sector and to collect retirement benefits due from his work with the port in New York.
Teel's salary will be $105,000 a year, the same as O'Malley's.
In contrast to O'Malley, who had worked in port administration for 30 years, Teel has devoted his career to local government. He started in 1964 as an auditor for the Anne Arundel County school system and served as assistant superintendent from 1974 until 1983. He was chosen in 1983 by Lighthizer, who was then the county executive, to be the chief administrative officer, running the day-to-day operations of the county.
Lighthizer today vowed that Teel would make changes at the Port of Baltimore, which has been operating at a deficit for the last three years.
Teel is to begin work June 24.
"I hope to turn around the fortunes of the Port of Baltimore," Teel said.
Teel said he plans to draw upon his experience in Anne Arundel, which is one of the financially strongest counties in the state, to return the port to profitability.
He said his first task will be to meet with labor unions and management to "get an idea of what their expectations are for the port and what needs to be corrected."
He said he intends to stress customer service and work more closely with the rail and truck industries.
Both Lighthizer and Teel said the port's management structure will have to be reviewed and changed.
"That cries out," Lighthizer said. "It needs a coherent plan."
Teel said he intends to appoint a deputy director who has maritime experience, but said he does not view his own lack of experience as a severe hindrance.
"I'm a pretty quick study," he said.
Teel added that coming from the outside might have its advantages. "I carry no bias in any particular direction," he said.
Rex Sherman, director of research for the American Association of Port Authorities, said maritime experience is helpful, but is not crucial for a successful port administrator. He pointed to Ezunial Burts, Los Angeles' port chief, as an example of a well-respected port director who came to the job with no maritime experience.