County prepares for government transition
County girls’ basketball previews Officials to be sworn in today
— County Executive-elect Alan McCarthy is wrapping up the first true transition from one county executive to another in county history as he prepares for his inauguration today at noon.
McCarthy, who will become the county’s second county executive under charter government and the
first man to hold the post, has been in constant motion since his election Nov. 8.
Much like the presidential transition between President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work over the past months and weeks to prepare for a change in leadership. In McCarthy’s case, the past 27 days have been especially busy as hundreds of policy and personnel decisions have to be made so he can hit the ground running.
“It’s a new day and a new way,” McCarthy likes to say about his administration, but so far, he’s been keeping his plans close to the vest.
“No decisions are firm yet,” he said Friday, although he admits he is still considering possible personnel changes, and, or, departmental consolidations. “I want to be clear that all my decisions will be what’s best for the people of Cecil County.”
Director of Information Technology Scott Mesneak
was dismissed Friday.
“I was out of my office by 8:30 a.m.,” he said, verifying the dismissal.
Mesneak said he believed others were dismissed Friday also, but he couldn’t verify who.
More personnel changes may be announced Tuesday when the county council convenes for a work session at 9 a.m. and a legislative meeting at 7 p.m. Introduction of executive appointments is one of the agenda items.
McCarthy hopes to tap a group of volunteers with diverse backgrounds, which he calls an implementation group, to assess pros and cons of a potential consolidation once he takes office Monday.
Even though McCarthy started preparing for the possibility of serving as county executive after the primary election, his preparations jumped up a notch after securing the job Nov. 8.
“I’ve been meeting with many of the department heads in recent weeks to learn information about their jobs and to share my views and vision for the
county with them,” McCarthy said, noting he’s particularly focused on the county budget. “I’ve been learning how much of the budget is actually discretionary and I’ve discovered that this government is already fairly ‘mean and lean.’”
While not a real surprise, McCarthy said this knowledge supports his primary goal as county executive, which is to increase county revenues and create jobs.
“This will take time,” he cautions.
McCarthy has also been doing homework by talking with county executives in counties such as Harford and Howard, to learn about their operations and challenges. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman has been a supporter of McCarthy’s and was present at his victory party on Nov. 8.
Outgoing County Executive Tari Moore has played an integral part in the transition to her successor, as well.
Moore said she actually reached out to McCarthy and Wayne Tome, the Democratic candidate, right after the primary election to fill them in on a couple of decisions she had made and why.
“It wasn’t much, but it was a start,” she said.
Since the general election, Moore has met with McCarthy a few times.
“He’s up-to-date on most issues because of serving on the county council,” she said.
But, Moore realized she has been working on some issues behind the scenes, such as helping the Lakeside Mobile Home community, which she explained to McCarthy.
“He’s trying very hard,” she said. “But, until you walk the walk, you don’t know everything.”
Moore says one of McCarthy’s biggest challenges in his first year will be the budget.
“Usually, by this time of the year, the budget is already in progress, but with a change of administration it’s going to have a late start,” she said.
While Moore and McCarthy are both Republicans and share many of the same values, they may not agree on every issue, but both feel the transition of power this year will be peaceful and smooth.
“He has a big challenge ahead, but I feel comfortable,” Moore said. “When I became county executive, there was no one to transition from, so this is different.”
The Grinch may have made an appearance, but that didn’t dampen the holiday cheer during the Cecil County Christmas Parade on Saturday.
Cecil County Council Vice President Alan McCarthy addresses supporters in Elkton following his victory in the county executive race last month. McCarthy will be sworn in as county executive today.