ANNAPOLIS, DEC. 30 -- Robert Pascal, a former Republican officeholder and gubernatorial candidate, said today he will join Gov. William Donald Schaefer's staff as appointments secretary on Tuesday.

Pascal, a former Anne Arundel county executive who was defeated for governor in 1982 by Democrat Harry Hughes, will step into a position now held by Mary Ann Saar, who has filled a triple role on Schaefer's staff since he was inaugurated last January.

Saar will continue to hold the title of director of operations, the administrative officer for the staff, and will continue as the governor's staff aide for public safety and juvenile services. She also will become liaison between the governor and independent state agencies, according to sources in the governor's office who asked not to be named.

Pascal said he was asked by the governor earlier this month to come down and talk about the staff position. "He said he needed somebody he could trust. I think I can help him," Pascal said in an interview. He said he has been working in the family owned gas company and spending time at his farm on the Eastern Shore.

The job of appointments secretary is one of the most politically sensitive on the staff.

In his new position, Pascal will be responsible for screening candidates for hundreds of jobs and appointive offices filled by the governor and for dealing with legislators and other influential Marylanders who want jobs or appointments for friends and supporters.

Although a Republican, Pascal has long maintained close ties with prominent Democrats, including former governor Marvin Mandel. He also has publicly praised Schaefer for his accomplishments as mayor of Baltimore and was described by one Schaefer aide as a friend, but not the kind of close friend the governor would go to dinner with at the ocean.

An aide to the governor said Schaefer and Saar agreed to the change and that it did not reflect dissatisfaction with her performance as appointments officer. Saar began talking to the governor as early as the summer about turning over that job to someone else so she could concentrate on her other duties, the aide said.