Governor names Balto. Co. senator to contract panel

Michael J. Collins latest in series of departures

Calls position `logical extension'

May 18, 2002|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening named Sen. Michael J. Collins to the state Board of Contract Appeals yesterday, ending a 24-year legislative career and triggering further political upheaval on Baltimore County's east side.

Collins' appointment to the $90,000-a-year post had been expected, and will take effect July 1. He will resign from his Senate seat June 30, allowing the county Democratic Central Committee to name a replacement who is expected to seek a four-year term in November.

After two terms in the House and four in the Senate, Collins, 61, said he had a "visceral feeling" that it was time to seek another position. Before joining the legislature, he had been a teacher at Kenwood High School in Essex.

"This was a logical time if I'm going to make a move," he said. "We're going to have a new governor and a new county executive. I thought that one final challenge in my career was in order."

The contract appeals board resolves disputes between the state government and its contractors and vendors. Collins said the position was a "logical extension" of his General Assembly job. "In your role as a legislator, you listen to all sides of an issue and come to the best decision," he said.

In a statement, Glendening said Collins' experience will serve him well.

"As chair of the Senate ethics committee, he brings extraordinary skill in resolving issues of fairness," the governor said. "It is with pleasure that I am able to appoint a person who has the respect of his Senate colleagues and of his constituents."

Collins could have faced a tough challenge if he sought re-election. Del. Diane DeCarlo, an Essex Democrat, has filed to run for the seat. DeCarlo gained recognition as a leader in a successful referendum effort to overturn an unpopular redevelopment and condemnation plan backed by County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger in 2000.

As chairman of the county Senate delegation, Collins was the prime sponsor of the condemnation bill, and one of its leading advocates. He said yesterday that polls he has seen show that many voters agree with his position, and that he could have won the race.

Randy Cogar, owner of a Middle River printing company and a member of the party central committee, is also said to be interested in running for Collins' seat.

Collins' departure continues the loss of veteran political leadership from Baltimore County. Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell of Perry Hall, chairman of the Finance Committee, will resign to become head of the Injured Workers Insurance Fund and Del. Thomas E. Dewberry of Catonsville, the speaker pro tem, has been appointed an administrative judge. Del. Michael J. Finifter of Owings Mills was named a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge, and Del. Michael H. Weir of Essex is retiring.

Redistricting could end the careers of Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. and Dels. John S. Arnick and Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick, all of Dundalk. If they choose to seek re-election, they will have to run against popular incumbents in areas where they are not well known.

Collins said the county has undergone similar losses in the past, noting that in 1986, state Senate President Melvin A. Steinberg became lieutenant governor and the finance committee chairman, Sen. Dennis F. Rasmussen, was elected county executive. "The county got through it," he said.

Collins will serve the balance of a five-year term that started Jan. 31, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Anne T. MacKinnon. He must be confirmed by the Senate next year.

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