State's new chief of development is Schaefer insider

August 08, 1991|By David Conn | David Conn,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- In some ways, Gov. William Donald Schaefer's new economic development chief is a mirror image of his old one: smart, very energetic, experienced with development issues and fiercely loyal to his boss.

But the differences are just as distinct. J. Randall Evans, who will retire in September as secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development, is the quintessential schmoozer, big and boisterous and ready with a joke. Though he has gone head-to-head against legislative budget committees of late, in his 4 1/2 years on the job Mr. Evans managed to earn the respect of most of those lawmakers.

By contrast, Mark L. Wasserman, Mr. Schaefer's executive chief of administration and newly appointed DEED secretary, is thin as a rail, bookish in appearance and the ultimate Schaefer insider.

"I'm not the public official," he told a reporter in 1985. "My job is best done as an insider without the glare of the spotlight of publicity."

But much of his work with Mr. Schaefer, both at the city and state levels, was directed toward develop ment issues, and though he hasn't worked closely with the General Assembly, his reputation precedes him.

His appointment is "a very good move on the part of the governor,"said Delegate Howard P. Rawlings, D-Baltimore, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees DEED's budget. "Wasserman is a very effective negotiator in the political process."

A Baltimore native, Mr. Wasserman grew up in Prince George's County, graduated from George Washington University and received a master's degree in planning from the University of Maryland. In 1974, he took a job in Baltimore's planning department, and two years later he moved to the mayor's physical development office. He ran Mr. Schaefer's gubernatorial campaign in 1986. Since 1987, Mr. Wasserman has served as the governor's de facto chief of staff.

The 41-year-old Baltimore County resident said his first efforts will be aimed at helping revive Maryland's pallid economy. "There's nothing like urban economic development to cause one to appreciate what a difference the public sector can make in producing jobs and increasing the tax base," he said.

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