Prince George's Baker begins assembling transition team

By Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 9:06 PM

Presumptive Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has tapped Wayne K. Curry, the county's first African American executive, to lead his transition team as he prepares to take office in early December.

Baker (D) on Tuesday also named Kenneth W. Johnson, a county resident and assistant general counsel for Sodexo, to be the team's executive director. Johnson will run day-to-day operations of the team, whose members are still being selected.

Baker, who won the Democratic nomination last month to succeed Jack B. Johnson (D), has no Republican opponent Tuesday, but he has been working behind the scenes, awaiting Election Day before discussing his plans to take the reins of the $2.6 billion county government.

Baker has been meeting with residents and others, and he is to hold his third "listening session," on economic development concerns, from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Friendly High School in Fort Washington. He has held sessions on education and public safety, and he ran on a platform pledging school reform.

"Everyone here is going to help me shape that vision of how we create jobs in Prince George's County," Baker said Tuesday at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro as he introduced Curry (D), Johnson and honorary co-chairmen, including University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and former county executive Winfield Kelly (D).

Baker said he did not know how much public money will be available from the departing Johnson administration to help pay for the transition team's work. The team will consist of subcommittees that will study the workings of county government, seeking ways to streamline operations and analyze how basic services are delivered. Staffing of county offices will also be examined; Johnson has left an unknown number of jobs vacant, and some County Council members have said that there has been a resultant decrease in county services, such as leaf collection.

The transition subcommittees will write reports to Baker; the panels are expected to begin work after Election Day, although preliminary work has begun.

Also serving as honorary co-chairmen of the transition committee are county politicians, educators and business leaders, including Craig Moe, mayor of Laurel; David Hillman, chief executive of Southern Management, who donated thousands of dollars to Baker's campaign; Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George's Community College; William R. Hite Jr., Prince George's public schools chief; and Fred Robinson, Bowie's mayor.

State lawmakers, all Democrats, who backed Baker in the primary, including Sens. C. Anthony Muse and Paul G. Pinsky and Del. Justin D. Ross, all of Prince George's as well as County Council Vice Chairman Andrea Harrison (Springdale), are among several vice chairmen.

Information about the transition will be available on a Web site that is under construction, a Baker spokesman said.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company