Mount Airy mayor takes county job, too

June 18, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

Mount Airy's newly inaugurated Mayor Frank Johnson has accepted a position as a senior assistant county attorney in Carroll County, after first clearing any potential conflicts of interest with the county's ethics administrator and the Mount Airy Ethics Commission.

Johnson, who previously served as the county's legislative liaison for two years until resigning in May, will monitor state and federal legislation for the county, spending time in Annapolis and Washington.

Last week, Johnson attended the General Assembly's special session on BGE rates and monitored a redistricting bill filed by Carroll's three senators, which never came up for a vote.

When municipal concerns come before Johnson, he said he will recuse himself from those issues. One such topic could be the annexation bill that pitted the Maryland Municipal League against the Maryland Association of Counties this year, County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender said.

"If an issue came up that put the county and town at odds, I would need to not be involved in that," Johnson said. "If that were to happen, there are other staff there that could step in."

While Johnson will perform many of the functions he did as legislative liaison, he will report to the county attorney instead of to the Board of Commissioners.

The county won't need to hire a new legislative liaison, said Steven D. Powell, the commissioners' chief of staff. Powell will serve as the county's interim municipal liaison, attending the Carroll County Council of Governments meetings.

"I'm delighted," Powell said. "Frank has kept the county abreast of a lot of the particulars in Annapolis. He's been able to stay on top of things that have saved the county money."

In addition to legislative duties, Powell said Johnson's background in zoning law will benefit the county. As an assistant county attorney in Montgomery County, Johnson dealt with zoning issues.

However, tracking federal legislation will be a new duty for Johnson. He will regularly travel to Washington to follow such issues as cable and fiber-optics deregulation and food safety regulations.

Johnson referred to a proposal that would further institute federal food regulations, removing local health department requirements.

"As a local government with some rural background, we would certainly want to keep an eye on that," Johnson said.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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