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Baltimore County Council unanimously approves D’Andrea Walker as administrative officer

Baltimore County Administrative Officer D'Andrea Walker takes her seat for the first time in Council Chambers.
John Lee
Baltimore County Administrative Officer D'Andrea Walker takes her seat for the first time in Council Chambers.

Baltimore County’s new administrative officer was warned Monday night that the county’s bleak budget outlook “is going to fall on you.”

The Baltimore County Council Monday night unanimously approved Executive Johnny Olszewski’s nomination of D’Andrea Walker to be the administrative officer, who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of county government.

Before the vote, Council Chairman Izzy Patoka told Walker that the $5 billion spending plan proposed last week by County Executive Johnny Olszewski is “a spartan budget.”

Patoka said, “We’re all going to have to row in the same direction and figure out not only this budget ahead of us, but the ones that follow because it looks really bleak.”

“As county administrative officer, it’s going to fall on you,” Patoka added.

Walker told Patoka, “I do understand the importance of the budget and what we have before us.”

When Olszewski presented his spending plan to the council, he warned that in the future, the county would have to make cuts or raise taxes to make ends meet.

There is no increase in the tax rate in the spending plan Olszewski proposed for the fiscal year that begins July 1. However, Olszewski said the county may need to borrow up to $600 million to meet basic needs like schools, police stations and fire houses.

Olszewski blamed decades of neglect and inflationary pressures for the budget fix the county finds itself in.

Walker has been serving as Olszewski’s public works and transportation director.

In a statement Olszewski said, “I applaud the County Council for confirming such a forward-thinking leader.”

She replaces Stacy Rodgers who retired last week. Walker has praised Rodgers for opening the door for her. Rodgers was the first Black woman to hold the job. Walker is the second.

Council members brushed aside recent stories, first reported in the Baltimore Brew, that Walker played a role in a police investigation of a former employee who had accused her of ethics violations.

Walker also was named in a2022 reportby Inspector General Kelly Madigan that raised questions as to why the public works department spent$69,000to repair a commercial alley in Towson.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Walker was supported by friends and family. Also in attendance were former coworkers and supervisors she worked with in Prince George's County and in state government.

“It’s a little bit emotional because they didn’t have to,” Walker said.

At public works, Walker has overseen a department with nearly 1,000 employees with a budget of $769 million.

Walker was appointed the acting director of the public works department in October 2020. At the time, she could not become the permanent director because she is not a professional engineer, which was required for that position.

That changed when county officials put on the November 2022 ballot a charter amendment which would allow someone who is not an engineer to hold the director’s position if they have at least 10 years of supervisory experience in infrastructure planning and construction, or transportation engineering and management.

Voters approved the amendment in November of 2022. Walker then qualified to be the permanent public works director. She was appointed by Olszewski and sworn in to that position in February 2023.

Walker will make $263,000 annually as the county administrative officer.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2