A longtime aide to Gov. Martin O'Malley will become Baltimore County's top lobbyist.
Yolanda Winkler is the new director of government affairs, replacing Frank Principe, who left to join the state Department of Transportation, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Tuesday.
Winkler has more than two decades of local and state legislative experience. She most recently served for three years as special assistant and legislative liaison in the governor's office, where she helped direct and implement state and federal policy, and worked with state agency heads to improve services.
"I am really pleased that Yolanda is joining our team and will be heading up our efforts in Annapolis," Kamenetz said in a statement. "I know that we've got a tough session ahead of us, and Yolanda's fiscal expertise and legislative experience will be invaluable as we move forward."
Winkler said her skills would be a boost to the county as it prepares its legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session.
"It's an opportunity to get back to where I first started when I got involved with politics," Winkler said. "I felt like I could offer the county my assistance, expertise and experience as it relates to legislative and fiscal policies in Annapolis, especially given the fiscal challenges that the state is up against."
Issues surrounding the budget, education and transportation have emerged as concerns in preliminary conversations with the county executive, she said. Many local governments are also gearing up to fight against a possible shift in teacher pension costs from the state to the counties.
Winkler also spent eight years as deputy director of the Baltimore Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Relations and served as a budget and research analyst for the City Bureau of the Budget.
Her appointment, which does not require County Council approval, was praised by state officials. She will be paid $105,000
"Yolanda is an excellent choice to represent Baltimore County's interests," said Michael Sanderson, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties, in a statement. "She has a great deal of experience both with local government issues and working the halls in Annapolis, and that is a rare and valuable combination."
Added state Sen. Delores G. Kelley, "Yolanda Winkler will be a great asset to Baltimore County. She is a high-energy, collaborative team player who is totally committed to serving our communities."
A Towson University graduate and Baltimore City resident, Winkler holds a master's degree in business administration from Morgan State University.