On the eve of taking office, Anne Arundel County Executive-elect John R. Leopold has shifted Dennis Callahan to the chief administrative officer post and is doing away with the chief of staff position as a cost-cutting measure.
Leopold, a Republican state delegate, had previously announced that Callahan, a prominent Democrat, would be his chief of staff. But in the flurry between a razor-close election and the swearing-in ceremony, Leopold changed his mind. The executive-elect made the announcement in a statement Friday.
"In concert with my goal to create efficiency in government, I am not filling the chief of staff position," said Leopold, who will be sworn in tomorrow morning at the Arundel Center. "Mr. Callahan has been the de facto CAO since the transition began."
The chief administrative officer, the No. 2 spot in county government, is charged with running day-to-day county operations. Based on county personnel records from February, the chief administrative officer to County Executive Janet S. Owens, Robert L. Walker, is the county's highest-paid employee at $151,303 annually. Her chief of staff, Alvin C. Collins, made $122,287 annually, records showed.
Callahan, a former mayor of Annapolis and a longtime county recreation and parks director, ran for county executive but lost in the primary. Leopold said he bonded with Callahan on the campaign trail and asked him to co-chair his transition team.
Callahan's assistant will be Erik Robey, the state GOP vice chairman and the legislative assistant to Republican County Councilman Ronald C. Dillon Jr. Vanessa Morales was reappointed as the Hispanic outreach coordinator and grant administrator.
Leopold made interim appointments to two key posts. Lois Villemaire will be planning director, and George Eberle will be inspections and permits director. Leopold is conducting a national search to permanently fill those positions.