Annapolis mayor taps Chitwood as city's chief administrator AACC budget analyst has 20 years in government

December 24, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Walter N. Chitwood III, a budget analyst at Anne Arundel Community College, was tapped by new Mayor Dean L. Johnson yesterday morning for the position of Annapolis' chief administrator.

A former top aide to Robert R. Neall when Neall was county executive, Chitwood will replace John L. Prehn Jr. if the city council approves his nomination. The confirmation could come as early as Jan. 12, at the council's first 1998 meeting.

Yesterday, the mayor said Chitwood's local ties to the community were a major factor in the decision.

"We conducted a nationwide search and got 120 applicants from 24 states," Johnson said. "I intend to nominate Walter Chitwood, who has been here for more years than me. He knows the ins and outs of the community, but, most importantly, he has the professional qualifications."

Chitwood, 49, has lived in Annapolis since 1980, but his family's roots there go back 130 years. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Baltimore.

Chitwood has had about 20 years of experience in state and local government, including stints as controller, director of recreation and parks, director of public works, chief administrative officer and assistant to the county executive. He also was an assistant superintendent for administration for the county school system.

Chitwood briefly considered a run for mayor earlier this year but changed his mind because of family illnesses. The nomination surprised few; Johnson mentioned during the mayoral campaign that Chitwood would be a perfect candidate.

"I am looking forward to working with citizens and taxpayers of Annapolis I'm also looking forward to getting to know the employees and department heads," Chitwood said yesterday. "The city government has a long history of running well, and I want to continue that tradition."

The role of chief operating officer or city administrator has grown since the council made sweeping reforms in the city charter earlier this year to give the position more authority.

The amended charter allows the mayor to appoint an administrator who has authority over all city departments, power to hire and fire city personnel and free reign over daily municipal operations. The council used to participate in those responsibilities.

Chitwood will be responsible for lobbying the state legislature and city and county officials to press the mayor's agenda into law. He will also oversee budgeting and help set city policy.

In his newly defined role, Chitwood will report only to the mayor, which substantially increases mayoral authority at the expense of the eight aldermen. The mayor is the only person with the power to fire the city administrator.

The city has advertised the position's salary at about $74,000 a year, but Chitwood said that was being negotiated. Prehn made $60,800 a year, and his predecessor, Michael Mallinoff, held the post at $74,000 a year.

Yesterday, Johnson praised Prehn, a retired Navy captain who delayed his retirement to help with the transition. Prehn took over the position in 1996 when Mallinoff resigned to become city manager of Newport, R.I.

Prehn is a former president of the powerful Ward One Residents Association and has operated a bed and breakfast on King George Street with his wife since 1981.

"You have managed to conduct business with honor, dignity and respect," Johnson told Prehn. "The city owes a huge debt of thanks to you."

Pub Date: 12/24/97

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