Baltimore County school board member Roger Hayden, who also served as county executive from 1990 to 1994 — the last Republican to win the job — has died.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski confirmed Hayden’s death in a statement Thursday.
“A dedicated public servant and tireless advocate for public education, County Executive Hayden exemplified what it means to give back to our communities," Olszewski said. "Baltimore County is stronger for his service and my sympathies and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Hayden, 74, had served on the Board of Education of Baltimore County since 2017, when Gov. Larry Hogan appointed him to fill a vacancy. He also served on the board from 1974 to 1987, six years of which he spent as board president.
Hogan called Hayden “a great Marylander who devoted much of his life to serving his community” and praised his “unwavering commitment to education” and how he “continued to work passionately to improve our local schools.”
Hayden, a longtime resident of Baldwin, was president of The Hayden Consulting Group, which specializes in business and organizational issues.
Hayden’s career spanned management in finance, operations, facilities management and transportation, according to his biography on the school board website.
County Councilman David Marks called Hayden “a very important figure in the modern history of the Baltimore County Republican Party.”
Marks, a Perry Hall Republican, recalled the 1990 election when Hayden defeated then-County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen, a Democrat.
“He ran in an election where development and property taxes were both the main issues,” said Marks, adding that Republicans also captured three of the seven County Council seats that year. “He was able to ride this anti-incumbent fervor that was sweeping the county that year.”
During Hayden’s administration, the county passed the Honeygo Plan to curb development in a rural area of northeastern Perry Hall, Marks said.
But Hayden, who governed during the recession of the early 1990s, angered many with service reductions that included job cuts and library closures. In 1994, he lost reelection to Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who was elected to Congress later.
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“He ran on an agenda of fiscal restraint and cutting services,” Marks said. “He kept his promises, but it was at a tremendous cost to him politically.”
Former County Executive Don Mohler knew Hayden for four decades, when he was a member of the school board and later as county executive.
“I don’t know that folks ever appreciated what difficult work Roger had to do ... in 1990 to 1994 when there was a terrible economic downturn,” Mohler said.
Hayden made difficult decisions in downsizing government, he said. But, Mohler believes, Hayden will be remembered more for his work on the behalf of the county’s public schools than what he did as county executive.
Hayden believed every decision should be made in the best interests of children, rather than the adults in the system and he had a strong “belief that public schools were the key to our democracy, the way we were going to help generations move forward,” Mohler said.
“Roger’s legacy will be his dedication to public schools," he said. "It was a consistent theme over four decades.”
Hayden’s past positions included serving as vice president of finance and then vice president of operations at Eastern Stainless Steel, vice president of administration at George Transfer, director of facility operations for the Baltimore Orioles and associate vice president for facilities management at Towson University, the Hayden Consulting Group site states.