Gov.-elect Parris N. Glendening turned his attention to the task of governing yesterday, naming a diverse 12-member group to oversee the two-month transition of power from the Schaefer administration to his own.
As many Glendening insiders expected, the committee will be headed by his wife, Frances Hughes Glendening, a 43-year-old lawyer with the Federal Election Commission. She will co-chair the panel with James T. Brady, 54, managing partner of the Baltimore office of Arthur Andersen & Co., an international accounting and consulting firm.
Mr. Glendening made the announcement at his first State House news conference since clinching the Nov. 8 election after a weeklong count of absentee ballots. That count gave him a margin of slightly more than 5,000 votes, or a fraction of 1 percent of the 1.4 million votes cast, over Republican Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey.
Mrs. Sauerbrey has yet to concede and is investigating alleged voting irregularities in the apparent hope of reversing the election's outcome.Mr. Glendening pressed forward, naming a transition panel that includes three women, three African-Americans and one Indian-American.
Professionally, the group includes three college professors, a banker, a Montgomery County legislator, a city lawyer connected to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, the county administrator in Prince George's County, a Baltimore school system employee, the former owner of a Western Maryland newspaper, and a longtime Eastern Shore farmer.
Mr. Glendening said his transition team will eventually involve 200 to 300 Marylanders, many of whom will serve on a half-dozen policy subcommittees, arranged on topics such as education, public safety, economic development, environment, human services and "effectiveness in government."
In addition, he will name a personnel work group, a budget work group, and an inaugural committee, all answerable to the 12-member executive committee, which will be key in setting the policies and making the staffing decisions that will shape Maryland government for the next four years.
Mr. Glendening said that the work of the transition committees may not be completed until about the time of his Jan. 18 inauguration, but that staff and Cabinet appointments as well as interim policy decisions will be announced as the process moves along.
He was pressed repeatedly yesterday to explain why he had chosen his wife for such an important position, and whether he expected to receive the same type of criticism President Clinton received for giving his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, responsibility for developing a health care reform proposal.
"Frances Anne is not going to do health care," Mr. Glendening quipped, one of several light-hearted replies he and Mrs. Glendening offered to questions.
More seriously, he said his wife had chaired his transition team when he was elected Prince George's county executive in 1982 and oversaw a similar process in 1986 and 1990 -- all before most people had heard of Mrs. Clinton.
Work as a team
"I'm confident about the capabilities of Frances Anne," he said. "If people wish to draw analogies that I think have no bearing, I have no control over that."
Mrs. Glendening said she "has a great deal of respect for Mrs. Clinton, but I really don't think of this in those terms. I'm just being myself. Parris and I have always worked as a team. I also am pursuing my own career goals, while remaining a good mother." The Glendenings have a teen-age son, Raymond.
Mrs. Glendening noted she was born in Baltimore, reared in Western Maryland, spent summers on the Eastern Shore and has lived in Montgomery and Prince George's counties. "I have a great appreciation for every aspect of this state," she said.
Asked if she will stay on with the administration once the transition is over, she laughed and said no. "He can't afford me," she said.
Mr. Glendening once again said he "heard" the voters in this year's agonizingly close election, including those who backed Mrs. Sauerbrey because of her pledge to cut taxes.
He promised to make government more efficient, to avoid any general tax increase and to reduce unspecified business taxes to make the state's economy more competitive.
However, as he did during the campaign, he left open the possibility he might support a gas tax increase if he is convinced that it is needed to bolster the state's sagging Transportation Trust Fund.
Schaefer aides watch
As Mr. Glendening and his wife stood behind the podium before a bank of 10 television cameras and a roomful of reporters and photographers, veteran Schaefer administration aides lined the side and back walls of the room, watching with interest as their successors began the first step of moving in.
Behind the Glendenings stood nine of the 12 executive committee members, each of whom was formally introduced by Mrs. Glendening. Off to one side, seated on a couch by herself, was Lt. Gov.-elect Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.