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Baltimore County announced press secretary T.J. Smith is leaving his position this week to "pursue other opportunities." Smith will be replaced by Sean Naron, a former campaign spokesman for County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.
Baltimore County announced press secretary T.J. Smith is leaving his position this week to "pursue other opportunities." Smith will be replaced by Sean Naron, a former campaign spokesman for County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore County press secretary T.J. Smith is stepping down from his role Friday to “explore other opportunities," County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.'s office announced Tuesday.

Smith previously served as a spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department in the city.

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He will be replaced by Sean Naron, a former Olszewski campaign spokesman who most recently served as a press secretary for former Planned Parenthood leader Dr. Leana Wen, the county said.

Smith’s latest move raises questions about a potential run for the Democratic mayoral nomination in the city. Smith has acknowledged considering seeking the top post in Baltimore for some time.

"I plan to make a big announcement soon,” Smith said but declined to elaborate. Smith previously said he has met with advisers about running, and this past winter moved from Baltimore County to the city. Candidates must live in Baltimore to run for mayor.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the county executive,” Smith said. “It was a great learning experience out here, learning from somebody who truly cares about the people he serves, and I’m looking forward to my next chapter.”

The filing deadline for the April 28 primary is Jan. 24.

Smith has served in the role of press secretary since January, shortly after Olszewski was sworn into office. The Democratic county executive, in a statement, called Smith “a valued advisor and a critical team member," and he expressed gratitude for Smith’s “hard work and his thoughtful approach to the job of press secretary.”

Smith resigned as the city police spokesman in October 2018 after serving as the department’s public face since 2015. At the time he cited an unstable environment — with “mudslinging” within the department and “political turmoil” all around it — as the driving force behind his decision. Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called at the time for Smith, who he brought to the Baltimore Police Department, to run for mayor in 2020.

Naron, a Baltimore County native and graduate of Dulaney High School, previously worked as communications director for Olszewski’s campaign for county executive, communications director for Democrat Kevin Kamenetz’s gubernatorial campaign and as deputy press secretary to former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, also a Democrat. Naron will receive a salary of $90,000, county spokeswoman Dori Henry said.

“Sean is a dedicated, hardworking, and energetic communicator with years of experience working with journalists to ensure the public has access to the critical information they deserve,” Olszewski said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have him return to our team as we continue implementing our vision for a better Baltimore County.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.

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