Willis chosen to fill Dixon's delegate seat Glendening cites her experience in private sector

Swearing-in is today

She is director of business training at community college

February 20, 1996|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,SUN STAFF

Citing her longtime business experience, Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed Ellen L. Willis yesterday to the state delegate seat vacated this month when Richard N. Dixon became Maryland's treasurer.

Ms. Willis, 48, for many years a Democrat activist, was one of two nominees submitted to the governor by the Carroll County Democratic State Central Committee yesterday. The other was Cynthia Cummings, 54, of Silver Run.

"Ellen will represent the citizens of Carroll County and Maryland very well," the governor said in a statement. "She is a pro-business and pro-jobs Democrat, which is the result of her broad private-sector business experience."

The governor said Ms. Willis' experience and understanding of a strong private-sector economy will "be critical" as his administration and the General Assembly work to stimulate job growth.

Ms. Willis, director of business training at Carroll Community College, will be sworn in at 9 a.m. today in the House chamber. She will serve the remainder of the term, which expires in 1998.

Ms. Willis said she was "very pleased and humbled" by her selection and added, "I feel I'm very prepared for this, and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Ms. Willis ran unsuccessfully for delegate in 1994 and 1990. Like Ms. Cummings, a county teacher, she is considered a liberal Democrat.

Mr. Dixon, who endorsed conservative Democrat David Brauning, a Finksburg insurance agent, as his successor, predicted yesterday that a Republican would take the 5th District seat in the 1998 election.

"I like Ellen. I think she's a great person. But the committee doesn't understand Carroll County politics," Mr. Dixon said. "I would imagine the Republicans are jumping for joy in our county. The Democratic Central Committee is completely out of touch with the county."

Ms. Willis disagreed, saying, "I look at this as an opportunity for the people of Carroll County to find out who I really am. I plan to meet with [Mr.] Dixon to get his advice. I am asking him at the same time to watch and listen and see if I'm the very liberal person he is convinced I am."

Ms. Willis and Ms. Cummings were chosen from a field of 11 candidates. The women received the same number of votes during balloting Saturday. Under Maryland law, the governor is required to make a final selection.

"I think we had two good candidates," said Phil Miller, committee chairman. "The governor made his decision."

In choosing Ms. Willis, the governor also noted her work at the community college, her former role as assistant director of the county's Department of Economic Development and her years on corporate and other boards.

Ms. Willis is a member of the board of Union National Bank and has served on the boards of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and the Carroll County YMCA. She has two grown children and is the former wife of John Willis, the Maryland secretary of state and a longtime adviser to Mr. Glendening.

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