January 19, 1995|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers John W. Frece and Frank Langfitt contributed to this article.

Parris Nelson Glendening, freed just a few days ago of the legal challenge that threatened his inauguration, took office as Maryland's 59th governor yesterday with a broad appeal for unity and inclusion.

The former three-term Prince George's County executive, the first Maryland governor from the Washington suburbs in more than a century, delivered his brief, oddly sentimental inaugural address through a steady drizzle on a chilly afternoon.

For a candidate who won with majorities in just three of 24 subdivisions and whose 5,993-vote victory over Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey was contested until this week, it was a moment to finally, unabashedly, celebrate.

Not that the stoic political science professor was exactly delirious. But in a departure from tradition, Governor Glendening interrupted his 20-minute inaugural address for a several-minute musical tribute to his wife, Frances Anne. Under a tent on the steps of the State House, Mr. Glendening, 52, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., held his wife as Sgt. Marcella K. Diehl of the Maryland National Guard sang "The Wind Beneath My Wings."

Mrs. Glendening, 43, who, in addition to being Maryland's first First Lady in eight years, has emerged as a top policy adviser to the new governor, wiped tears from her eyes.

"Frances Anne, I want to say publicly that you are my hero," Mr. Glendening told her. "You have been 'content to let me shine;' you are content here today while 'I am the one with all the glory.' "

It may have struck some observers as corny. But it seemed a humanizing moment for a man who has been characterized by his detractors as stiff, bookish and boring. "It's a new wrinkle," said former Gov. Harry Hughes, an old Glendening friend. "As governor, he's allowed to have them."

More than 2,000 people braved the rain and 51-degree temperature to listen to the governor, who -- with his lieutenant governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -- had taken the oath of office less than an hour earlier in the crowded Senate chamber. ** He sounded familiar themes: promote economic growth, foster better schools, make communities safe, protect the environment and develop a more efficient government.

But most of all, the Democrat spoke of a "Maryland family" where people work together for a common good.

His appeal to skeptical Marylanders from the Chesapeake Bay waterman to the Cumberland lathe operator: "In this age of cynicism, I want to earn your faith.

"We can indeed fly higher than an eagle once we understand that Maryland is one state, one family."

Maryland is "one state, one family," Mr. Glendening insisted later in his address. He reinforced the point with a quotation from the poem "Outwitted" by Edwin Markham. "He drew a circle that shut me out -- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win; we drew a circle that took him in."

"Today we draw our circle. Today we begin an era of unity. We begin a time of inclusion," Mr. Glendening said. "Today, we begin working on our priorities -- a quality education for our children, safe communities and good jobs. Today, we see change as opportunity."

Mr. Glendening also honored the memories of his and his wife's deceased parents with a rose left on an empty chair on the dais.

His speech offered no new programs, initiatives or details. That will come later, the governor said, in a budget address to the General Assembly tomorrow and in policy remarks during his first State of the State address next week.

Instead, Mr. Glendening singled out the accomplishments of self-starting Maryland residents -- a woman who created a hospice program, Salisbury's community policing efforts, a dTC fledgling business in Prince George's County, a college scholarship program that reaches out to urban blacks.

"Your government cannot make these changes alone," he said. "These changes will come when we stop saying we have a problem and then simply asking, 'What can government do about it?' "

The new governor's emphasis seemed both an acknowledgment voter anger with government in the just concluded election and a deliberate departure from the style of William Donald Schaefer, the feisty 73-year-old former Baltimore mayor whose tenure as Maryland's "Do it now" governor came to an end yesterday.

Mr. Schaefer was host to the Glendenings and Townsends at a buffet brunch in the Governor's Mansion, then led the procession, with former Governors Hughes and Marvin Mandel, through a line of uniformed state troopers to the State House.

The departing governor sat calmly as his successor took the oath of office and then quietly disappeared even before Mr. Glendening and other inaugural speakers could offer tributes.

The inauguration of Mr. Glendening represents more than a generational and stylistic change: It is evidence of a shift in political power in Maryland from Baltimore to the Washington suburbs.

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