J. Randall Evans, Maryland's economic development chief since 1987, announced yesterday that he will resign to become a vice president of CSX Transportation Inc. in Baltimore. His decision marks the first of what likely will be a succession of high-level departures from state government as Gov. William Donald Schaefer's final term draws to a close in 1994.
Mr. Evans' resignation from his $107,000-a-year position as secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development will take effect after Labor Day.
The Schaefer administration has not named a successor. Michael Lofton, deputy secretary of DEED, probably will be the acting secretary for the time being, state officials said.
In his newly created job as vice president for corridor development with CSX Transportation, Mr. Evans said he will work with cities and states to devise new passenger rail systems. He cited Maryland's MARC commuter system and the new light-rail line as examples of the types of systems he might explore. He also will be the company's liaison to state and local governments in Maryland.
"I'm just devastated," said state Delegate Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore, chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the budget of Mr. Evans' department. "The best ones go first when a governor is in the remaining years of his term," Mr. Rawlings said. "He has done a tremendous job."
Robert Keller, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said he was "very, very disappointed for us and just pleased as heck for Randy." Mr. Keller described Mr. Evans as energetic and "incredibly devoted to William Donald Schaefer -- and that is a good thing."
Indeed, Mr. Evans is possibly his boss's most loyal booster, since both men campaigned at home and abroad for the advancement of Maryland's economy. He oversees a department that employs more than 1,400 people with an annual budget of about $162 million. It's a much larger entity today than in 1987, when Mr. Evans was assigned the task of combining the former Department of Employment and Training with the Department of Economic and Community Development.
A former Baltimore housing department official under then-Mayor Schaefer, Mr. Evans, a New Jersey native, left Baltimore in 1982 to run Richmond Renaissance Inc., a private non-profit development agency. He graduated from Princeton University in with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, and after a stint in the Navy he received a master's in public policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
"He's going to be tough to replace, especially at this stage in the term," said Delegate Timothy F. Maloney, D-Prince George's, chairman of another Appropriations subcommittee.
"Randy has done a tremendous job for Maryland," Mr. Schaefer said in a statement. "He has tirelessly promoted the state at home, nationally and internationally, building partnerships and forging ties that have brought us great success."
Page Boinest, a press aide to the governor, said Mr. Schaefer recognizes that members of his cabinet may be asked to choose between private-sector offers and continuing in public service, but said, "The governor feels that the fact that members of his team are able to land such desirable offers is a real compliment to the quality of his administration. Randy got an excellent offer and the governor understands that sometimes you have to make those tough choices."
Legislators and others floated a number of familiar names as possible replacements for Mr. Evans, including: J. Henry Butta, a close associate of Mr. Schaefer, who will retire in a month as chairman of Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co.; former state senators and county executives Sidney Kramer of Montgomery County and Dennis Rasmussen of Baltimore County; and state School Board President Robert C. Embry Jr.