County Executive Robert R. Neall scored with black leaders yesterdaywhen he appointed Donald Tynes Sr. to head the county's personnel office.
"With this appointment, the county executive may very well have established a new era in county politics. I'm elated," said Jean Creek, president of the Anne Arundel chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Tynes, the University of Maryland's director of human resources, affirmative action and equal employment opportunity, is Neall's firstCabinet-level minority appointment. As personnel officer, he will beresponsible for overseeing all hiring in county government.
Tynes, a 49-year-old Baltimore County resident, was chosen from among 170 applicants, 15 of whom were interviewed.
Neall, who was sharply criticized by a coalition of black leaders last spring for not putting minorities in high-level positions, said he chose Tynes because he isthe most qualified candidate -- not because he is black.
"It turned out that the strongest candidate happened to be a minority. (Tynes) is a superb personnel director, and he's also an African American, and I'm very pleased about that."
More important to minorities than the appointment itself is the nature of the job Tynes will hold, Neall said. "Personnel is where all hiring decision are made. The real news is that this gentleman . . . will be taking the lead in improving our performance in affirmative action."
"It's a vital position" for minorities, agreed Lewis Bracy, chairman of the Black Political Forum of Anne Arundel County. Just 100 days after Neall took office, the forum issued a report criticizing him for a lack of responsivenesson minority issues.
The forum welcomes news of Tynes' appointmentbut, unlike the NAACP, is not ready to proclaim a new era of awareness and fairness, Bracy said.
"We don't want to take the overly optimistic opinion of the NAACP," he said. "Many times there have been assurances of an ushering in of a new era based on one appointment. Wedon't want to be too optimistic or too pessimistic.
"This is a key position," he said. "The question now is . . . will Mr. Tynes go along with business as usual or will he make some significant moves himself? We will be monitoring his progress."
Tynes, scheduled to assume his post Sept. 13, said that he hasn't had time to study county government's minority hiring needs but that his philosophy regarding affirmative action is simple.
"I just want to make sure we get the best-qualified persons in the job. But I also feel that if we have a lack of minority representation, there will be recruiting efforts concentrating in that area."
Neall said he told Tynes that development of an affirmative action plan should be one of his top priorities, along with an assessment of the personnel office and preparation for upcoming negotiations with county unions.
"I said during my campaign that I supported affirmative action. I want to be successful in this area," Neall said.
But the executive also said he will not maketoken appointments to satisfy his critics.
Neall said he interviewed women and minority candidates for the positions of fire and police chief, but none were as qualified as the white men he eventually chose. "If you (interview minorities) every time, sooner or later you will have some successful minority candidates," he said.
Tynes willbe the county's third top-level minority appointee.
His career inpersonnel dates back to 1969. He now oversees personnel matters for all 15 institutions under the University of Maryland umbrella. From 1983 to 1987, he was deputy secretary of personnel for the state Department of Personnel.
Tynes replaces former personnel officer Richard Mayer, who retired last spring and has since accepted a position with the Maryland Port Administration.