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Lia Russell

The Baltimore Sun

March 12, 2024

D’Andrea Walker, Baltimore County’s director of public works and transportation, will become the county’s next administrative officer.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a Democrat, said Tuesday during a news conference in Towson that he had selected Walker to succeed Stacy Rodgers, who announced her retirement in January. The county administrative officer is the county’s second-highest ranking position, overseeing all county offices and departments, according to the Baltimore County charter.

“D’Andrea is a forward-thinking leader and a vital member of our administration whose innovative efforts have consistently improved County operations — and delivered for those we serve. I am thrilled to appoint her to this role to build on that impressive record,” Olszewski said in a written statement. “She leads by example and shares our vision to deliver equitable, efficient and accessible services for every resident, and I have absolute confidence that D’Andrea will build upon the strong foundation laid by Stacy Rodgers — continuing to shape a better Baltimore County for generations to come.”

“I thank County Executive Olszewski for his confidence in me and for the incredible honor of this appointment,” Walker said in a statement. “For nearly three decades, I have been a proud public servant and I look forward to continuing to serve the residents of Baltimore County in this new role for years to come.”

The County Council will vote on her appointment April 15, according to county spokesperson Erica Palmisano. Walker will be the third woman and second Black woman to serve as county administrative officer.

Rodgers earns $263,000, and is the county’s second-highest paid employee, according to salary records. Per a council-approved measure, the county administrative officer can earn between $217,000 and $325,000.

Lauren Buckler, the deputy director of Public Works and Transportation, will become acting director of the department.

The Department of Public Works and Transportation, the county’s largest agency, has 1,000 employees and a $769 million budget. Walker previously served as acting director from November 2020 to February 2023 in violation of the county charter, which forbids acting directors to serve in their positions for more than 60 days without council approval. The council eventually voted to permanently approve her in February 2023.

During that time, voters approved a charter amendment removing the requirement that DPW directors be licensed engineers. Walker does not possess an engineering degree.

Olszewski said Walker is highly qualified for the role, citing her “decades of high-level leadership in state and county agencies.”

The charter states that the county administrative officer is the chief budget officer for the county, and must be “thoroughly familiar with modern accounting methods and budget procedures,” and have at least five years of experience as an executive in private business, public service, or both. The county administrative officer must also reside in Baltimore County for the duration of their service.

Walker’s tenure at the public works department has drawn scrutiny. Five bureau chiefs left during her first two years, leading the agency to hire new leaders overseeing highways, solid waste management, utilities, construction, and metropolitan district financing and operations.

During that time, the Office of Inspector General Kelly Madigan cited the agency for allowing then-Council Chair Julian Jones, a Woodstock Democrat, to override employees’ objections to using $70,000 of county resources to pave a private alleyway at the request of developer Wayne Gioioso, one of his campaign donors.

Madigan’s office also began investigating in 2022 a complaint that Walker advanced a request from one of Olzewski’s donors, Baltimore Recycling Center owner Jack Haden, to build the county’s first privately run waste transfer station. Madigan has refused to confirm or deny an ongoing investigation.

Her office has since issued more reports citing DPW’s poor recordkeeping and employee oversight.

Before joining the county in February 2020 as deputy director of transportation, Walker worked for Prince George’s County as its associate director for transportation. She previously worked for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland Transit Administration, and the NAACP, where she was hired to assist then-President and CEO Kweisi Mfume.

Mfume, now a U.S. representative for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, admitted he and Walker, with whom he has a son, had a “brief” affair. Staffers complained that he gave her preferential treatment, and Mfume later apologized during his U.S. Senate campaign in 2006 for his “boneheaded mistake.”

Walker left the NAACP in 1999. She holds a bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration from Morgan State University, according to her LinkedIn page.

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