New Ecker assistant attributes his rise through ranks to GOP networking Thies joins office of Raquel Sanudo

September 08, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Former Howard County Republican Club President William Albert Thies Jr. has no doubts that his political connections helped him get a job in the administration of GOP County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

"If I had not been known politically, Dr. Ecker would not have known me from Adam," Mr. Thies said yesterday as he began work as assistant to Raquel Sanudo, the county's chief administrative officer. The job pays $41,368 a year.

"I would like to believe, however, that once he knew about me, it was my credentials and experience that set me apart. I never worked on his campaign."

Since 1982, Mr. Thies has been working in the Columbia office of Chaselle Inc. as a computer systems analyst who drafted programs, assembled and replaced hardware, and installed a corporate network for the national distributor of educational materials.

"I was computerizing things that used to be done manually," he said. "We needed to streamline what we were doing, which meant a lot of in-home production of things that had been sent out."

Computerization helped Chaselle grow from a $25 million-a-year corporation to a $65 million-a-year corporation during his 10 years with the firm, Mr. Thies says.

The job as administrative assistant to Ms. Sanudo "came complete out of the blue," Mr. Thies said. He received a call from Mr. Ecker on one day and was interviewed and hired the next.

"It's a phenomenal experience," he said. "I will work on special projects and see every level of government."

He brings two assets to the job that he believes will help Howard County as a whole, Mr. Thies said.

"I come from a corporate environment -- very dynamic -- where you have to make good decisions quickly and be self-conscious about budget, waste and personnel," he said. "I think some of those ideas will help here."

Second, Mr. Thies believes that the fact that he has never before worked in government will be an asset. "In the corporate world, the bottom line is efficiency and revenue," he said. "In government, they don't hang over your head that you may go out of business."

A native of Tacoma Park, Mr. Thies, 34, came to Howard County at about age 3 and has lived here ever since. He now lives in a condominium overlooking what was once the Allview Golf Course driving range he used to practice on as a member of the Atholton High School golf team.

After graduating from Atholton in 1976, Mr. Thies attended Howard Community College. He later transferred to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, graduating with a degree in political science in 1982.

That year, Mr. Thies helped Robert H. Kittleman become the first Howard County Republican in more than 50 years to win a seat in the House of Delegates.

Mr. Kittleman, who is now the House minority whip, is the father of Allan H. Kittleman, chairman of the Republican Central Committee and one of Mr. Thies' closest friends in high school and college.

"I used to visit [the elder] Kittleman's farm all the time. I spent more time digging fence posts than I did campaigning," Mr. Thies said.

When Allan Kittleman became president of the Howard County Republican Club, he asked Mr. Thies to be his vice president. Mr. Thies later won the presidency on his own.

The local Republican Central Committee recruited him as a candidate for Register of Wills in 1990. He spent less than $100 on the campaign, but his friends and relatives had fun supporting him, he said. He lost to incumbent Kay Hartleb.

Mr. Thies does not intend to run again in 1994, however.

"I am so thrilled about the situation I have here," he said. "1994 will be a year of helping other people win."

"If he runs for office, he's out," Mr. Ecker said. "I hired him because of his talents and abilities. I didn't want to treat him differently because of his political background, but he has to separate his political activities from this job."

Mr. Thies has begun to do some of that. He resigned as secretary of the Republican Central Committee a year ago because of a work conflict, and he resigned as secretary of the Howard County Republican Club when he accepted the job with county government.

He will continue to serve as campaign treasurer for Michael Grasso, Republican candidate for the House of Delegates in District 13A, "unless it becomes an issue."

Mr. Thies also plans to continue his nonpartisan service as a member of the Dorsey's Search village board.

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