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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Video: Kamenetz’s chief of staff appointed Baltimore County executive

TOWSON — Donald I. Mohler was named the 13th Baltimore County executive on Thursday.

Mohler, chief of staff to the late Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, was appointed by the Baltimore County Council by a 7-0 vote two weeks after the death of his boss. Kamenetz died unexpectedly May 10 of cardiac arrest.

“It’s very humbling,” Mohler said during a meeting with reporters moments after being named the county executive designee. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way. My friend, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, should have been able to complete his term through the first week of December. As we know, life doesn’t always turn out the way we would like.”

Mohler said he agreed with council members who called for a time of healing for the county, referencing both the death of Kamenetz and Baltimore County Police Officer Amy S. Caprio, who was killed in the line of duty Monday in Perry Hall.

“It’s been a very difficult two weeks in Baltimore County,” said Mohler. “We need to come together and we need to be strong, and we will.”

“What I would say to the people of Baltimore County, I would look at them and say, ‘We’re going to be OK. We’ll do this together,'” said Mohler, who vowed to “continue to move forward with (Kamenetz’s) initiatives.”

Donald I. Mohler

Donald I. Mohler (center) was appointed by the Baltimore County Council to succeed Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died on May 10. (The Daily Record / Bryan P. Sears)

A swearing-in ceremony has not yet been scheduled and was not expected to happen on Thursday. Fred Homan, the county administrative officer, remains the acting county executive.

Mohler, a longtime resident of Catonsville, came up through the Baltimore County Public Schools system, where he retired after serving as a teacher, principal and an area superintendent.

“He’s a problem-solver and he has a lot of bipartisan support on this council and in the county,” said Councilman Tom Quirk, a Catonsville Democrat. “I think right now we need stability.”

Mohler holds a bachelor of arts and master of liberal arts from Western Maryland College, a masters degree in education from Loyola College and a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University.

He later served as a senior adviser to two Democratic County executives, James T. Smith and Kamenetz.

He has never been elected to public office.

Mohler’s selection comes two days after the council held a hearing to allow members of the public to express their expectations for a successor. A large number of the speakers told the council they would like to see Mohler selected. They also asked that the council stay away from selecting one of their own or another elected official in an election year.

“I think this week’s events have in my mind re-enforced the need for bringing closure to this issue of vacancy in the position of county executive,” said Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican. “We need certainty, and we need a sense of finality.”

Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a Democrat from Chase, called Mohler “a voice of reason.”

“I think that most people said they didn’t want controversy, they didn’t need any more drama, they wanted a smooth transition and I think Mr. Mohler filling that position, that’s exactly what’s going to happen,” said Bevins.

Council Chairman Julian E. Jones Jr., a first-term Democrat, told the audience at the end of Tuesday’s meeting that the hearing was “not a straw poll.” In interviews, he said he preferred an elected official to a “bureaucrat” — he never named Mohler directly — to fill out Kamenetz’s term.

“It was certainly never personal with Don Mohler in terms of my beliefs in having an elected official,” said Jones. “I wish I had all the answers in the world and wish I was right all the time, and I recognize I’m not.

“If I have to go against my rule, I think he’s a good person to do it for,” Jones said.

Note: An earlier version of this story referenced Mohler as the 14th Baltimore County executive. County officials Thursday afternoon said Mohler was in fact the 13th executive, as Fred Homan isn’t officially counted has having been sworn in.

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