Agency head resigns

Aging Department director to seek political office

August 12, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

A member of County Executive John R. Leopold's Cabinet has abruptly resigned after eight months at his post, saying that he wants to pursue elected office.

Wayne M. Taylor, who was publicly reprimanded four months ago for announcing a nonexistent policy decision, stepped down as director of the Department of Aging and Disabilities.

Friday's announcement from Leopold's office said the resignation was effective Aug. 24, but a county official said he would leave before then. His photo was already gone from the department's Web site on Friday.

"When I compare my service as an elected official to my administrative duties as a department director, it is with a degree of reluctance that I conclude that I can better serve a larger portion of the population from an elected position," Taylor wrote in his resignation letter to Leopold.

Taylor, who previously served one year as an Annapolis alderman, was director of aging services for more than 50,000 seniors in Anne Arundel County, according to census figures. To serve a larger population, Taylor would likely have to pursue a county or state seat, and the next election isn't until 2010. Should he pursue a city seat, he would have to wait until 2009, though some candidates have already stepped forward.

Taylor did not return messages left with his secretary Friday.

Leopold said in a prepared statement: "As an elected official for over 30 years, I can fully appreciate Mr. Taylor's desire to resume a career as an elected official."

Several other county officials will shuffle positions as a result of Taylor's departure. Sheryl E. Banks, Leopold's special assistant for minority affairs and a former human relations officer, will take his job, with Yevola S. Peters sliding over from her post as director of community relations to take Banks' position.

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Erik Robey will oversee the community services office on a temporary basis, said Chief Administrative Officer Dennis Callahan.

When Leopold announced Taylor's appointment shortly after his election in November, Taylor said it had come "out of the clear blue sky for me." As a former toy-retail manager, he had no formal education or training in the geriatrics field. But as a former program director for Edgewood Social Programs for six years, he had seniors programming and budget experience.

"I think if you would talk to the seniors in Anne Arundel County, I think they would give the department very high marks" during Taylor's tenure, Callahan said.

He began the job when Leopold took office on Dec. 4. In April, Taylor announced that the county would begin charging a $1 fee to seniors and disabled people who use its popular van shuttle service. But Leopold said the next day that the idea had only been floated at a meeting and had been ultimately rejected. He said Taylor "spoke prematurely and inaccurately on the issue."

Some Democrats said Taylor's aspirations to again win elected office could hit snags. Taylor, a Democrat in a city that swings heavily to the left, first took the position with Leopold, a Republican. Then he endorsed a Republican, who lost the race, to fill his spot on the Annapolis City Council.

"Wayne's recent history as a supporter of other Democrats is checkered," said Chuck Weikel, a member of the county's Democratic Central Committee. "People have long memories in Annapolis."

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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