Gray sidesteps questions about leaving council for Annapolis

November 17, 1994|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Sun Staff Writer

County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray said yesterday his appointment to Governor-elect Parris N. Glendening's 12-member transition team means "that Howard County interests will be looked after and protected, particularly in regard to education."

But he sidestepped speculation that he'll leave the council to work for the new governor in Annapolis. "It hasn't been discussed and I haven't been asked about it," he said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens."

Should Mr. Gray leave the council, the local Democratic Central Committee would choose his successor.

Carole Fisher, head of the Democratic committee, already has considered that possibility. Once it became clear that Mr. Glendening had won, "my first thought was: Who lives in Vernon's district?" she said.

Kathryn Mann, who lost to Mr. Gray in the Democratic primary by a 2-to-1 margin, could be one of those considered to succeed him, but her potential nomination is by no means certain. "We would have an open process in which various people would apply," Ms. Fisher said. "I would expect we would have two or three votes before electing a successor."

Meanwhile, as a member of the governor-elect's transition committee, Mr. Gray will be helping to develop a four-year plan of goals and objectives for the new administration, he said.

"I am very happy -- delighted to serve the people of Howard County and the state of Maryland generally in this capacity," Mr. Gray said. "Parris has a great vision for the state and for leading the people of Maryland into the 21st century."

For the time being at least, Howard County can expect to have on the council "someone who is close to the next governor," Mr. Gray said. "I enjoy the council and serving the people of Howard County" as a councilman.

The council's Republicans privately have said they would like to nominate Mr. Gray as chairman of the county Liquor Board. However, Mr. Gray says he would turn down the nomination.

"I've chaired the Liquor Board, the council and the Zoning Board," he said. "I don't want to retrace my tracks. I am happy to be just a member" of the council.

Council members also sit as the Zoning Board and the Liquor Board. Republican Charles C. Feaga, a two-term incumbent, is expected to become the next council chairman and Republican Darrel Drown, who recently was elected to his second term on the council is expected to be the Zoning Board chairman.

If Mr. Gray declines the Liquor Board chairmanship, the Republicans may give the post to Democrat Mary C. Lorsung. The new council will elect its officers Dec. 5.

Mr. Gray said his refusal to serve in an administrative capacity on the new council does not mean he's "not cooperative," but is a reflection of the workload he's carrying outside the council.

He is teaching four courses at Morgan State University, where he is a professor of political science, and has been serving on three committees there dealing with staff promotions and tenure.

The Morgan committee responsibilities end today, he said, but his Glendening transition team work will continue until mid-January.

Although he has no plans at this point to run for county executive in 1998, "obviously I would never rule it out," Mr. Gray said.

He said his main goals now are to assure that the school system puts older schools on an equal footing with newer ones, both structurally and in terms of equipment. "That was my main theme in the campaign and I am very, very pleased that people have bestowed their continuing trust on me for another term," he said. "I look forward to the next four years with great interest, and I want to be part of those challenges and work with the people here."

Does that mean he's putting an end to speculation that he may accept a job in the Glendening administration? The council chairman smiled broadly. "Speculation is always good," he said.

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