Councilman Stephen G. Sam Moxley was chosen as chairman of the Baltimore County Council last night, marking the third consecutive year the position has gone to a legislator with an eye on the county executive's race in 2002.
A Catonsville Democrat, Moxley replaces Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder in the largely ceremonial post. Chairmen meet frequently with the county executive and run legislative meetings and work sessions, but do not typically have more influence crafting bills or shaping policy than the other six members of the council.
The county charter requires council members to pick a chairman from their ranks during the first meeting of each year. The job pays $5,500 a year more than the standard $38,500 council salary.
Like Bartenfelder and 1999 Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz, Moxley, 41, is thinking about a run for county executive next year. The chairman's position will raise his profile slightly as he weighs the decision and perhaps embarks on the fund raising necessary to run a competitive race. Term limits prohibit County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger from running again.
"It's something that I am giving very serious consideration to," Moxley said yesterday. "It's something I plan on looking at and discussing with my family first, and with colleagues, and business and community leaders."
Moxley said he expects to make a decision by year's end, "because of the fact that you have to raise so much money, which I absolutely despise."
A graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School, Loyola College and University of Baltimore School of Law, Moxley is a senior underwriting officer with Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Maryland, where he has worked for 19 years. He is married, with three children.
Among the most pressing issues Moxley will oversee in the next year is the drawing of new council district boundaries after information from the recent census becomes available. Observers predict increased demand from minority groups, and blacks in particular, for greater representation. Council seats are currently filled by seven white males.
Redistricting is expected to be completed by late summer.
"I will work with my six colleagues to do that," Moxley said. "I don't want to take total control of that."
"I believe, at least through county services, all minorities - females, African-Americans, Asians - are being represented, despite the Anglo look of the council," he said.