Arundel minorities get more county jobs

NAACP leader sees progress, but wants hires in management

August 06, 1999|By Matthew Mosk | Matthew Mosk,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens released statistics yesterday to show that the county has been doing a better job of hiring minority workers since she took office in January.

The numbers were a response to criticism by local leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that Owens had not done enough to secure county jobs for women and people of color.

Since the start of Owens' administration this year, 22 percent of the 76 people hired were minorities and 22 percent were women.

In 1997, under the previous administration, minorities and women held 16 percent of the county's 4,500 jobs.

"I'm pleased that in eight months we have made these improvements, but I know we have a long way to go," Owens said.

Gerald Stansbury, who heads the NAACP's Anne Arundel branch, said the new figures were encouraging but he remains concerned about where on the county's pay scale those gains are being made. The latest statistics did not show the salaries of the new employees but did show that few minorities have been hired for management positions.

Of 20 administrators and professionals hired since January, one was black.

"We always get the entry-level jobs," Stansbury said. "What we want now, and expect now, is to see that all parts of her administration reflect the diverse makeup of this county."

After Owens' election victory in November, Stansbury was among the leaders of the African-American community who took credit for delivering the turnout that carried her into office.

One black added to Cabinet

Since then, Owens has taken strong stands against the Ku Klux Klan, found money to refurbish a building that once housed the county's all-black high school, and appointed a number of minority members to volunteer county boards and committees. She also joined the NAACP in a gesture of solidarity.

But Owens has appointed only one African-American to a Cabinet-level post -- Carl O. Snowden, special assistant to the county executive.

"That is the most difficult barrier for us to cross," said Annapolis Ward 6 Democratic Alderman Cynthia A. Carter, who is black. "I always used to be called a token. But those days should be behind us."

Competition for hires

Owens has yet to fill five of 24 Cabinet posts. She said she is searching hard for qualified minority applicants, but competition from the private sector has made it tough.

Snowden, the only African-American on the Cabinet, said he is confident she will succeed.

"I fully expect her to keep the pledge she made to having an inclusive administration," Snowden said. "I know it's something she wants."

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