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Anne Arundel council weighs move to oust county health officer

Dr. Angela Wakhweya is the new Health Officer of the Anne Arundel County Department of Health.
Dr. Angela Wakhweya is the new Health Officer of the Anne Arundel County Department of Health. (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston)

In a move that both the county attorney and elected officials conceded was unusual, the Anne Arundel County Council on Monday weighed a measure that would spell the ouster of the county's top health official, Angela M. Wakhweya.

Wakhweya is the first African-American to hold the position in the county health department's 81-year history.

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At the council's meeting Monday, County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson informed the legislators that Maryland Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene Joshua M. Sharfstein had already given his support for removing Wakhweya and installed an acting health officer to replace her.

Hodgson declined to spell out the nature of the accusations against Wakhweya.

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Because the county health officer is a county representative who sits on a state board, both Sharfstein, the state's top health official, and the council, Anne Arundel County's governing body, must agree on any move to dismiss.

Jacqueline Alsop, NAACP chair for Anne Arundel County, and several civil rights leaders were among those who spoke on Wakhweya's behalf Monday.

Six of the council's seven members said they felt they had been given too few specifics on the accusations to be able to cast an informed vote.

"The state wants us to fire somebody, but we're being given almost no information, and that really frustrates me," said Councilman Jamie Benoit, a Crownsville Democrat.

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The council voted to delay consideration of the issue until its next meeting Jan. 21.

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