Janet Owens' transition Anne Arundel

Incoming executive may want to retain some department heads, at least for the time being.

November 11, 1998

SINCE HER stunning defeat of incumbent John G. Gary last week, Janet S. Owens hasn't had much time to prepare to take over Anne Arundel County government. Her transition is getting off the ground slowly, impeding any effort to make widespread changes upon taking office in less than a month.

The only visible action so far has been appointment of a committee to examine the county's financial condition. Ms. Owens has yet to assemble groups to study various agencies and recommend department heads.

Dealing with finances is but one aspect of her new, complex job. Ms. Owens will oversee departments that enforce the law, decide where development belongs, help people off public assistance and ensure that residents have safe water to drink and that wastewater is properly cleansed before it is dumped into the Chesapeake Bay.

By rights, the incoming executive could replace every department head the day she arrives at the Arundel Center. However, it may be in her interest to proceed slowly in replacing several of county government's top people.

There isn't enough time to line up a complete management team between now and Dec. 6, the day she will be sworn in.

Ms. Owens should focus on filling priority positions -- her personal staff, finance director and county attorney -- and take a reasonable period to fill other top posts. Although Mr. Gary appointed Chief Administrative Officer Thomas C. Andrews, Ms. Owens should consider retaining him. He has been an effective, nonpartisan manager.

Keeping on such capable administrators as county Planning Director Steven R. Cover, Public Works Director John M. Brusnighan, Health Officer Frances B. Phillips, Social Services Director Edward R. Bloom and Recreation Director Thomas Angelis, at least temporarily, should keep those areas functioning smoothly.

Pub date 11/11/98

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