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Democrats Bromwell and Lafferty leaving General Assembly to join Olszewski administration

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. named several top hires on Monday.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. named several top hires on Monday. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

Two members of the General Assembly are leaving for newly created jobs in the administration of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.

Olszewski on Monday named Del. Eric Bromwell to serve as the county’s first opioid strategy coordinator and Del. Stephen Lafferty as its chief sustainability officer, a position that will focus on climate change, green energy and development. Both were Democratic colleagues of Olszewski’s during his days in the General Assembly.

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The lawmakers, who will make $105,000 a year in their new positions, were among a slate of new appointments announced by the county executive.

Olszewski also named Troy Williams, who most recently worked as a financial advisor in the private sector, as the county’s first chief diversity officer with a salary of $115,000. And in an internal move, he announced that Romaine Williams, an assistant county attorney since last year, will take a new role as chief of employee and labor relations, serving as a liaison between the county administration and employee unions. Her new salary is $112,000. Troy and Romaine Williams are not related.

Opioids, diversity and the environment have been among Olszewski’s top priorities since taking office in December.

The county has seen the state’s second-highest death toll from overdoses, behind only Baltimore City.

Bromwell has represented a district in the northeastern part of the county since 2003, spending most of his career serving on the House Health and Government Operations Committee, including as vice chairman, before being moved to the House Economic Matters Committee this year.

He co-chaired a General Assembly work group that studied opioid issues. He said he believes the county could better advertise ways people can get help with addictions. It’s often difficult, he said, for people to know where to turn for help.

He said he sees his new job with Baltimore County as an extension of his work as a delegate.

“It’s sort of a branch off of a different path,” he said, adding that he’ll work to secure more money from the state to help the county expand its programs.

The 42-year-old Bromwell works for The St. Paul Group, a Lutherville-Timonium company that provides data and network services to other businesses. He said he would resign from that position.

Lafferty, 70, has represented the Towson area in the House of Delegates since 2007. He’s served on the House Environment and Transportation Committee, as well as on a number of commissions and work groups related to environmental issues such as oysters, smart growth and water quality. Lafferty worked for Howard County government for more than a decade, including as deputy director of planning and zoning.

He plans to address adapting to and combating climate change, working on ways to increase the use of renewable energy and helping communities with sustainability issues. He wants to “take a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach to problem solving,” he said.

Once Bromwell and Lafferty resign from the House of Delegates, the Democratic Party’s central committee in the county will be charged with appointing replacements to serve the remaining three years on their current terms.

The recommendations will be sent to Gov. Larry Hogan, who makes the final appointment. Bromwell said he’s supporting Carl Jackson to replace him. In 2018, Jackson finished fourth among six candidates who ran for three seats in the district.

Lafferty said he’ll wait to see who applies to fill his former seat.

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“In our district, we have a lot of talented people,” he said. “I need to see who, in fact, is going to throw their hat in the ring.”

Troy Williams, the new chief diversity officer, has served as a diversity consultant to American University and since 2018 has worked as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, according to the Olszewski administration. He also has experience with the Department of Justice working in community relations.

As the County Council debated Olszewksi’s proposals for tax increases this spring, the council’s three Republicans questioned the need for the diversity officer position. They unsuccessfully tried to cut the position from the county budget.

The county police department is also hiring for its own diversity and inclusion officer, according to a job ad posted by the county.

The labor position filled by Romaine Williams is another new post whose duties will include preparing for contract negotiations, hearing employee grievances and training managers on labor issues. Williams is a former assistant attorney general for Maryland, who also worked as a public defender and as executive director of the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. She’s also a former county school board member.

The county’s human resources department has overseen labor relations in recent years. Olszewski’s administration also hired an outside firm, Harris Jones & Malone, earlier this year for $87,000 to assist with labor relations.

Six unions represent county employees, five of which have contracts expiring next June.

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