The hard-charging top aide to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said he is returning to the private sector after three years of trying to make the county bureaucracy more responsive and efficient.
Chief Administrative Officer Bradford Seamon said he will leave the administration near the end of April, returning to the private federal contracting company he has owned with his wife for 20 years.
Seamon ruffled some feathers at first while trying to implement the agenda of Baker (D), a fraternity brother and close friend from their days at Howard University. But in the end, he appears to have mostly earned accolades.
“It can be easy to come across as abrasive when you’re in government and dealing with issues that are very emotional and are very important,” Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) said. “But he was able to deal with those issues without employing any abrasiveness or antagonism.”
Baker tasked Seamon, 52, with bringing business sensibilities to the public sector and building a reputation for the county as a business-friendly, forward-thinking place that was ripe for economic development. Baker said Seamon was instrumental in securing the deal to build a regional medical center near Largo Town Center, which is expected to open in 2017.
“It’s really like running a 6,000-person company,” Seamon said. “We have things going in a good direction.”
Seamon was known for colorful poster-board-size charts, e-mailing daily management tips to Baker’s staff and poring over data and statistics that helped him shape projects, such as the selection of neighborhoods that became the focus of Baker’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative. The project aims to help blighted areas by addressing chronic problems such as housing and community health.
Seamon said he counts the 2012 demolition of the vacant Chapel Wood apartment buildings in Capitol Heights as a major success. Responding to community complaints, the county knocked down a 26-building complex on Nova Avenue that had long been an eyesore and a magnet for crime.
“We had had promises that something was going to be done, and it had not happened,” said community activist Gwen Bowman, who was pleasantly surprised when Seamon apologized for the county’s delayed response. “It was like a breath of fresh air and a big relief” when the buildings came down, she said.
Bowman, who is the president of the Bradbury/Boulevard Heights Civic Association, said more streamlined collaboration between the county’s government agencies yielded other results as well, including street curbs along a worn stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue.
But Seamon’s efforts were not always well received by other sectors of county government. When he presented Baker’s education plan in 2012, the school board pushed back against proposed changes, hurling questions and comments at Seamon.
After the contentious meeting, however, Seamon sat down to listen to concerns from Board of Education members and tried to smooth things out.
“I wanted someone who was willing to think differently and wasn’t afraid to take risks,” Baker said. “Seamon laid the foundation and became one of the most valuable players in Prince George’s County.”
Two other senior officials also have resigned from Baker’s administration in recent months: Carla Reid, the deputy chief administrative officer of economic development and public infrastructure, and Monica Johnson, the former county director of the Office of Central Services.
Seamon said he will help choose his successor as Baker, who is running for a second term and is unopposed in the June Democratic primary, prepares for his reelection bid.