The selection of Dario Broccolino as Howard County's permanent state's attorney ends months of uncertainty over who will get the post.
Broccolino, a 63-year-old career prosecutor, has served as a deputy in the office since 1999 and became interim state's attorney in December. He said he was "obviously pleased with the selection" by the three Circuit Court judges who last week announced their unanimous choice, but added it's too soon to decide if he will run for a full four-year term in 2010.
But some might already be thinking two years ahead when voters will decide.
"I'm definitely interested, said former state delegate Neil F. Quinter, a Democrat. "Ultimately the voters will determine who the state's attorney will be."
Quinter was one of five other applicants for the job vacated by Timothy J. McCrone in December, when he was appointed a Circuit Court judge.
"I'm confident that I would be an excellent state's attorney," Quinter said. "Naturally, I'm disappointed" at not being selected.
The Circuit Court judges narrowed their choice to two candidates, Broccolino and Lara C. Weathersbee, 39, who joined the office in 1995 and currently heads the office's juvenile division. They were the only two applicants called back for second interviews by Judges Lenore R. Gelfman, Louis A. Becker and Richard S. Bernhardt.
Weathersbee was supported for the job by McCrone, who recused himself from voting as a judge, and County Executive Ken Ulman. Broccolino didn't apply for the permanent job until the last day of a 60-day application period.
Broccolino and Weathersbee, both Democrats, exchanged compliments after the decision was announced.
"I'm happy for Dario and I hope he will serve the office well," Weathersbee said. "I have no comment on my future plans." Weathersbee's father, Frank Weathersbee, is state's attorney in Anne Arundel County.
Broccolino said he decided to apply after spending two months as interim state's attorney and seeing that he could have an impact.
"I saw things I could do," Broccolino said. Not major changes, he said, but administrative improvements he could make. He hasn't decided who will be his new deputy.
"Lara's a very talented, intelligent young lady," Broccolino said. "It wouldn't surprise me if she would be in the position in the not too distant future."
The new county state's attorney served 17 years as a prosecutor in Baltimore, then spent a decade as state's attorney coordinator for the Maryland attorney general before becoming deputy state's attorney under Republican Marna McLendon in 1999.
McLendon, who moved to Arizona after her last term in office in 2002, also praised Broccolino's move.
"That was the wisest and most appropriate choice for the position and speaks well for the future of the office remaining more professional and less political," she said.
Two other unsuccessful applicants praised Broccolino's selection.
Domenic F. Iamele, 63, a veteran Baltimore defense attorney, said he is "upset" that he wasn't chosen, but added that "I do think the choice was a prudent choice and a deserved choice. I know Dario personally and I know him to be an excellent prosecutor."
Gary Stewart Peklo, 61, a civil attorney in Ellicott City, called the decision "a thoughtful and sensible" one.
Edward Fisk Dyer, 75, a retired electrical engineer and lawyer, was the other applicant.