As County Executive, Leopold Has Promises to Keep
New leadership comes to Anne Arundel County this week, with the December 3 swearing in of County Executive John Leopold.
In taking his oath of office, the new county executive stands on a record of promises. In dozens of candidate forums, advertising and interviews including with Bay Weekly Leopold told Anne Arundel voters he’d be a “responsible steward of our natural resources” if we elected him. Now he has promises to keep.
Action by action we’ll be comparing what John Leopold said with what he does, with particular scrutiny of his promises to protect our quality of life on the land and in our waters.
Leopold’s first acts, before taking office, have been appointments. If you wondered who a lone wolf would choose, he’s filled 24 leadership roles, from police chief to chief of staff, with faces both new and familiar.
To his transition team, he’s named 75 citizens, dividing them into four responsibilities: Economic Development; Education, Health and Welfare; Public Safety/Criminal Justice; and Transportation, Land Use and Environment.
Most notable of his appointments is his choice for chief of staff: Dennis Callahan. The former mayor of Annapolis was himself a candidate for the job Leopold now holds, ending his race with his defeat in the Democratic primary to George Johnson.
A month after the primary, on October 15, Callahan endorsed Leopold, a Republican, praising his “bi-partisan bridge building skills required to build the coalitions necessary to solve our county’s pressing problems.”
In managing development, Leopold promised to “seek the best qualified individuals who share my passion for prompt, courteous constituent service and an even playing field for all citizens.”
With the riverkeepers of Chesapeake Country, who met with and questioned Leopold as a candidate, environmental appointments so far have sounded no alarms. “We’re giving him the benefit of the doubt,” said West-Rhode Riverkeeper Bob Gallagher. Ron Bowen’s retention as director of Public Works drew warm praise.
Callahan’s appointment raised “a little concern” in South Riverkeeper Drew Koslow, who worried that an “old-school politician” might be less open to “public input.” On the other hand, Koslow said, “if his message from Mr. Leopold is we want open government and to restore faith to citizens, I’m sure he’s capable.”
Directors for both Planning and Zoning and Inspections and Permitting the two with the greatest power over development are still to be named. Leopold promised to take his time and is considering a nationwide search.