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Government & Politics

Political Notes from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore

Big Names for Johnny O. In an impressive display of unity, just about every leader of the House of Delegates is scheduled to come together on Thursday night at a fundraiser for a former colleague, John Olszewski Jr., who is running for Baltimore County executive.

They’re all lending their name to the gathering at the Timonium home of attorney Cynthia Leppert. Ticket prices start at $250 and go up from there.

Headlining the fundraiser are: House Speaker Mike Busch, Majority Leader Bill Frick, Democratic Caucus Chairman Luke Clippinger, Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh, Ways and Means Chairwoman Anne Kaiser, Economic Matters Chairman Dereck Davis, Environment and Transportation Chairman Kumar Barve, Health and Government Operations Chairwoman Shane Pendergrass, Judiciary Chairman Joe Vallario, and Rules & Executive Nominations Chairwoman Anne Healey.

Conspicuously missing from the list: The lone member of Busch’s leadership team from Baltimore County, Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones.

Olszewski is competing for the Democratic nomination with County Councilmember Vicki Almond and state Sen. Jim Brochin. He has been far and away the most active of the three on the campaign trail so far: Almond is scheduled to officially announce her bid in Owings Mills on Nov. 1. Brochin’s campaign website only recently began to identify him as a candidate for county executive.

In an email to supporters, Olszewski called Thursday night “a big day for this campaign,” and said the lineup of House leaders is “sure to stir the conversation.”

Spokes Up. Ben Shnider, who is challenging Montgomery County Councilmember Sidney Katz in next year’s Democratic primary, is bringing U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus, to a fundraiser on Oct. 12.

“Congressman Blumenauer is among our nation’s leading voices on the issues that have inspired our campaign — like walkable neighborhoods, bike lanes, transit, and affordable housing,” Shnider said in an email solicitation.

Shnider, who until recently was the national political director for J Street, the pro-Israel group seeking a two-state solution, is challenging Katz from the left. Katz, who is in his first term on the County Council, spent 16 years as mayor of Gaithersburg and 20 years before that on the City Council.

Trial Balloon. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, who has been president of Salisbury University for the past 18 years, announced Wednesday that she would step down from the top job next June 30.

“Change is good, for institutions and individuals,” Dudley-Eshbach said in a letter to colleagues and students.

Dudley-Eshbach is widely credited for boosting the university’s size, academic standing and influence in the surrounding community and region.

“She has made higher education her life, and SU, the University System of Maryland, and the citizens of Maryland, are better for it,” said Robert Caret, the chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

After stepping down, Dudley-Eshbach will serve as a special adviser to the university during a sabbatical year, then return to teaching in the 2019-2020 academic year. She is a Spanish language and Latin American scholar.

Without a doubt, the university and Caret will launch a nationwide search for Dudley-Eshbach’s replacement. By tradition, Caret as chancellor will recommend a candidate, and the University System of Maryland Board of Regents will ratify the choice.

But already there is some buzz that Len Foxwell, the chief of staff to Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and one of the most visible Salisbury alumni in the Maryland political world, ought to be considered for the job. Foxwell doesn’t have an academic background – though he’s on the adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University. But in the mid-2000’s, before joining Franchot’s staff, Foxwell served for a couple of years as the university’s assistant to the president for government and community relations.

“Higher education’s changed a lot in the past decade,” said Tyler Patton, vice president of the Maryland Rural Broadband Coalition and also a Salisbury alumnus, noting that many university presidents focus on fundraising, lobbying and community outreach nowadays. “Are you looking for a CEO or are you looking for a glorified academic provost?”

If that’s not enough, Foxwell does have a sandwich named for him at Hungry Minds Express, the café inside the university’s Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons. The L. Foxwell is a wrap topped with steak, American cheese, fries, and coleslaw.

The only other person with a menu item named for them there, other than Caesar — Janet Dudley-Eshbach.


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Political Notes from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore