- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

BALTIMORE — Maryland Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley yesterday announced the 40 members of a transition steering committee that he said reflects the state’s diversity and includes former NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume.

“We are going to build an administration founded on our belief that Marylanders’ diversity is our greatest strength,” said Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat and current Baltimore mayor.

“With their help, we are reaching out throughout our entire state to find the best men and women we can possible find to do the very, very important work of moving our state forward,” he said.

Mr. O’Malley, who made the announcement surrounded by about 20 members of the team at the William Donald Schaefer Tower in Baltimore, also said Michael R. Enright, who has been deputy mayor since Mr. O’Malley took office in 1999, would become the administration’s chief of staff.

Mr. Mfume, whose loss in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate sparked criticism about the lack of blacks at the top of the party ticket, told reporters that his involvement on the transition team was “a gesture.”

Asked what type of a gesture, Mr. Mfume said, “It’s just a gesture to try to put together the best team you can put together.”

The steering committee, which included a large number of Baltimore Democrats but also included members from Western Maryland and the Washington suburbs, likely reflects the composition of the O’Malley administration.

The committee has several officials from previous Democratic administrations, including former Gov. Harry Hughes, former Public Service Commission Chairman Frank Heintz, former Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs and former state Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster.

It also has a couple of union representatives, including Quincy Gamble of the Service Employees International Union and former Maryland State Teachers Association President Pat Foerster.

Members also included Gustavo Torres, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group CASA of Maryland Inc.; Shannon Avery, political action chairman of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland; and Karen White, national political director of Democratic pro-choice group Emily’s List.

Lt. Gov.-elect Anthony G. Brown, who is chairman of the transition committee, said the administration would include men and women and represent the state’s different regions, races, ethnic groups and political parties.

“The transition is going to be about professionalism, not politics,” said Mr. Brown, a Prince George’s County Democrat.

However, Mr. Brown declined to specify how many Republicans were on the steering committee.

“Trust me, they’re in there,” he said.

The steering committee is expected to meet for the first time Tuesday.

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