James D. Fielder Jr. was appointed by Bel Air commissioners as the new town administrator during a meeting Monday night.

Fielder, who was a cabinet secretary in two state administrations, replaces Chris Schlehr, who retired Dec. 31 after serving the town for 21 years.


A Harford County native, Fielder, 64, said Monday night he is excited to take on the task of leading the town's day-to-day operations.

"It's great to see what Bel Air is, where is has been as where it is going in the future," Fielder said. "Bel Air has a tremendous history."

Fielder, whose salary will be $107,867, will begin as town administrator Wednesday.

According to Michael Krantz, director of human resources and administration for the town, Fielder was the top candidate recommended by the executive search committee. In a news release, Krantz said the search committee conducted several interviews to fill the town administrator position.

Fielder has a background in business and state and local government, which Krantz said will be an "asset" to the town.

Fielder received his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland College Park in 1970 and a master's of education in 1972. He went on to earn a doctorate at Michigan State University in 1984.

A Bel Air High School graduate who grew up on a family farm east of Bel Air, Fielder has worked as vice president, director and chief officer of business development roles in both the IT and accounting, financial industries. He is a former president of on-campus management at Capstone Development Company.

Fielder has also worked in higher education in the financial and budget departments at both Towson University and the University of Michigan. While working in higher education, Fielder oversaw budgets, human resources and analysis, and finance and administration.

Fielder's experience working in government includes serving as secretary for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in the cabinet of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and as deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development under Gov. Parris Glendening. In the latter post, he served as acting secretary of the department for seven months in 1998.

Before being appointed to his state economic development position, Fielder served as Harford County's economic development director under then county executive Eileen Rehrmann from 1991 to 1994.