Long before Tuesday's final voting, Barry Glassman's election as Harford County's next county executive was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Glassman, a seasoned Republican politician in a county where voters typically favor GOP candidates in local elections, wasn't taking things for granted, however, noting he learned from his one-time political foe, and later ally, the late State Sen. Bob Hooper, "to run like you're 10 points behind no matter what."
But after having won an election every four years since 1990 and facing a virtual unknown Democratic candidate, Joseph Werner, in Tuesday's general election, Glassman was already taking stock of what's next before he sealed his overwhelming victory Tuesday. And, he acted quickly Wednesday, putting county government employees on notice about coming changes.
In the months leading to the election, he frequently talked about his plans to change how county government operates in order to make it leaner and more responsive to citizens.
"I think some people on the other end of Main Street are going to be happy with some of the decisions on this end of Main Street," he said in a mid-October interview, referring to the county's administrative center on South Main Street in Bel Air and his campaign headquarters on North Main where his transition team will be based.
He used words or phrases such as "culture change," "reshape," "right size" and "customer service" when talking about the direction of his administration, explaining he has been "studying organizational stuff" and also meeting with past county executives and some of his political mentors like Jeffrey Wilson, former county council president, with whom Glassman served on the council in the early 1990s.
Glassman has been planning a run for county executive for several years. He's made it no secret that one thing he will take a hard look at, if elected, is how much money the county spends and where it's spent. He's been a frequent, albeit quiet, critic of the debt taken on by the outgoing 9-1/2-year administration of David Craig to fund a number of public building projects.
Glassman's transition team is expected to be announced as early as Wednesday. He noted the next county executive faces a short turnaround because the charter mandated swearing is on the first Monday in December, which falls on Dec. 1 this year.
"Basically, we have about 21 [working] days to be ready," he said.
Glassman wouldn't say who will be on the transition team, which he explained will be broad-based with members reviewing the operations of each county agency in the three weeks before the new administration takes over.
He met with Craig Wednesday morning to discuss transition details.
He also declined to discuss who will be joining his administration, calling such talk "premature."
There has been plenty of speculation, however, that Glassman will be hiring his friend and outgoing council president Billy Boniface to a key administrative post.
Two years ago, county voters approved a charter amendment, placed on the ballot by the Boniface-led council, that ended what had been a required two-year waiting period between a council member leaving office and being employed by the county. While not discussing Boniface specifically, Glassman noted the change was duly approved by the voters.
There also has been plenty of talkthat Glassman's former legislative colleague, James Malone, who is retiring from the House of Delegates after representing Baltimore County for 20 years, will be another key player. Glassman and Malone served together in the House from 1999 until Glassman moved over to the State Senate in 2007.
Several county department heads already have plans to leave, among them Parks & Recreation Director Arden McClune, who said she expects to retire after a 30-year career with the county that also has included leading the department of planning and zoning.
While most of Craig's cabinet is expected to be replaced, one or two members may be asked to stay. Glassman insists, however, "I haven't offered a job to anyone...we're going to do everything above-board. I'm not going to get into it [names of potential appointees]."
Glassman also is expected to purge the ranks of the deputy directors in the county administration. He backed a charter amendment - that easily passed Tuesday – which will make those positions at-will appointments by the county executive. Among the group are some of the county government's most senior employees.
County employees received an emailed letter Wednesday from Glassman, sent through the county's human relations department, alerting them that changes will indeed be coming.
"Over the next four weeks, I have directed transition teams to review and analyze county departments and report back to me their findings and recommendations for the structure of my administration," the letter reads in part. "I have instructed these volunteers to conduct their work with the utmost respect for all county employees...However, it is clear that Harford County's fiscal pressures have not subsided and will require my administration to consider efficiencies in our departmental structure, as well as to identify potential savings."
"Additionally, some employees may receive supplemental communication outlining potential impacts of the transition on your employment status with the county," the letter continues. "Please contact Human Resources with questions that may arise."
"I realize that this period of change can be stressful," Glassman also wrote, saying a transition would be posted on the first floor of the main county office building to receive questions. "Therefore, I will be as transparent as possible regarding the process."