Working behind the political scenes for two decades; O'Malley names Kambon to his transition team


When Democratic mayoral nominee Martin O'Malley named Anana Kambon to help coordinate his transition team two weeks ago, the announcement generated curiosity in the city political world: Who is she and what does she stand for?

That's just the way the 46-year-old day care operator likes it.

During the past two decades, the Northwest Baltimore mother of two has quietly worked behind the scenes to bring residents' voices to city and state government. In addition to helping former City Council President Mary Pat Clarke take office in 1987, she served as campaign manager for Democratic state Dels. James W. Campbell and Samuel I. Rosenberg, comfortable in the shadow of the political limelight.

"If you need something done and done the right way, it's Anana," said political consultant Cheryl Benton, who tapped Kambon last year to help elect Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

Now a member of the O'Malley group that hopes to guide the biggest change in city government in 12 years, Kambon is again comfortable behind the scenes directing office traffic for O'Malley.

Kambon joins Downtown Partnership President Laurie Schwartz in coordinating the transition team, which would serve as a base for ideas and possible appointments to the next administration.

While O'Malley tapped Schwartz as a link to the city's business community, Kambon would help fit in the neighborhood piece of the puzzle.

"It's not about people, it's about voices," Kambon said of her role in the transition. "There are all these different voices across the community that need to be heard."

Much like many activists in government, Kambon first became involved in taking her voice to the government table as a PTA president at Cross Country Elementary School in the 1970s. She then joined forces with city leaders trying to get more state aid to city schools.

"I'm just like every other Baltimore citizen," Kambon said. "I want the best quality of life."

Yet Kambon has remained a soldier rather than running for office because she was busy raising her two sons, Khari and Camara. Camara, 22, is an Emmy Award winning composer in Los Angeles. He won an award in 1997 for his work on "Sonny Liston: The Mysterious Life and Death of a Champion." His mother is president of his company, Colorscapes.

Khari, 24, is studying Mandarin in Shanghai, China, where Anana Kambon spent three weeks of her summer, missing most of the mayoral primary action, which O'Malley likes.

"She's not this O'Malley supporter that goes all the way back," O'Malley said. "Her mission is to make it a good process."

Now that her sons are grown, Kambon is thrilled to be back in the government fray.

Kambon knows O'Malley faces a Nov. 2 general election against Republican mayoral nominee David F. Tufaro. Yet without becoming too presumptuous, she said she is excited about the possibly of being part of a new city government.

"We want to make sure there is an equal balance between the citizens in the neighborhoods and the business community," Kambon said.

Pub Date: 10/11/99

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