Johnny O Bringing on Mike Miller’s Top Aide for Chief of Staff

Johnny Olszewski Jr., the Baltimore County executive.

Baltimore County Executive-elect John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. (D) has hired the top staffer for state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) to be his chief of staff.

Olszewski announced announced several major senior staff appointments for his incoming administration Wednesday.

Patrick H. Murray, who has been Miller’s chief of staff for the past year and has a long history as a top Annapolis staffer, will serve as Olszewski’s chief of staff. Samantha F. O’Neil will serve as senior adviser, Andrew G. Vetter will become deputy administrative officer, Charles R. Conner III will serve as chief legislative officer, and Elisabeth A. Sachs will serve as director of government reform and strategic initiatives.

Miller also announced a series of personnel moves Wednesday, promoting Yaakov “Jake” Weissmann, a Senate staffer for almost a decade, to be Murray’s replacement as chief of staff.

Before his current stint for Miller, Murray was campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) and executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party. He previously served as director of state affairs for Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, deputy chief of staff to Miller, and senior adviser to Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel). He earned his J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and his B.A. from Swarthmore College.

Olszewski said Murray will oversee operations for the county Executive’s office, manage personnel decisions, and lead initiatives across Baltimore County agencies, while O’Neil will coordinate external communication, outreach and partnerships, and policy development.

Pat Murray
Patrick H. Murray

O’Neil is currently vice president of Margrave Strategies, an economic development consulting firm headed by former Howard County executive Ken Ulman (D). She previously served as Ulman’s special assistant and director of outreach and community partnerships at the Howard County Health Department. She earned her Master’s in public communication from American University and B.S. in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

Vetter is currently director of the mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in Baltimore City. He previously served as chief of staff and director of government affairs for the Baltimore Police Department and was a deputy legislative officer for former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D). He earned his J.D. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and a B.S. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Conner currently serves as Van Hollen’s deputy state director and is a former executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party. Conner has also served as an aide to Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) and as the director of stewardship for the non-profit, Thread. He earned a J.D. from the Charleston School of Law, a Master of Divinity from Duke University, and a A.B. from Davidson College in Religion.

Sachs is currently managing partner of Long Point Strategies, LLC, a public policy consulting firm. She previously served as executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force, Program Director of EARN Maryland, interim secretary of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, director of policy and planning at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and as an assistant state attorney general. She earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Haverford College.

“Our movement to build a better Baltimore County means bringing together the best and brightest,” Olszewski said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that these experienced, thoughtful, and energetic leaders will help us fight to expand opportunity in every community. “We are putting together a deeply talented team that is ready to hit the ground running on day one to create a stronger future for Baltimore County.”

Olszewski takes office on Dec. 3. He’ll replace interim County Executive Don Mohler (D), who replaced the late Kevin B. Kamenetz (D) six months ago.

Meanwhile, Miller has tapped another Annapolis veteran to head his team. Weissmann has served Miller in a variety of roles, most recently as his second-ranking staffer and top political lieutenant.

“He has navigated complex legislation through the Legislature, has a firm grasp on the budget and policy challenges we face, and has deep relationships with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” Miller said. “Jake understands the bipartisan nature of the Senate, and will provide stable leadership as we come into the new term.”

Weissmann eearned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law, a M.S.W. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a dual B.A. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Miller also announced that Alicia Watson will become his deputy chief of staff and Jenna McGreevy will be legislative director.

Watson has served as legislative director for Miller since 2013. She has a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and a dual B.A. from Sweet Briar College, a women’s college in Virginia.

McGreevy has served as legislative aide for Miller since 2015. She has a B.A. in History and Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and is currently pursuing a J.D. at the University of Baltimore.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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