On Monday, December 3, Democrat John “Johnny O” Olszewski, Jr. was sworn in as Baltimore County’s fourteenth County Executive, kicking off what he called a “new era” in Baltimore County.
“The enormity of making the possible real begins today and the responsibilities ahead are not lost on me. I am grateful that you are all here as we start this journey to celebrate Baltimore County’s future, and I am honored to be your Baltimore County Executive,” said Olszewski during his inaugural remarks.
In his speech, he said his administration will be promoting legislation and initiatives that will lead Baltimore County to create better schools, equitable investments, an improved economy and a more transparent and responsive government.
“We will do it by facing our challenges head-on. Nearly two decades ago, we celebrated the arrival of a GM plant whose closure now threatens hundreds of our families. In Baltimore County, we to rise to these challenges. When the steel mills closed, our communities didn’t give up; we went to work. Today that community is in the midst of a transformative resurgence,” he said. “It wasn’t easy — but we took that challenge on together. We relied on the resiliency of our people, and we looked to the future, addressing 21st-century challenges with 21st-century solutions. Those 21st-century solutions include partnerships with our neighbors across the Baltimore region because jurisdictional lines are just that: lines on a map. We rise and we fall together.
He said his experiences being raised in Dundalk, in the shadow on Bethlehem Steel site, and working as a public school teacher motivated him to run for office and had laid the foundation to the campaign his started two years ago.
As County Executive, Olszewski said he wants all residents of Baltimore County to have access the opportunities he had growing up, regardless of their background.
In the next four years, he explained that he hopes to improve aging schools in the County and achieve economic stability and security by leveraging anchor institutions and job centers to create jobs that utilize and retain local talent while expanding access to Pre-K and community college.
Just hours after he was sworn in, Olszweski signed an executive order establishing blue ribbon commission to examine the County budget process and recommend changes to improve fiscal sustainability, while identifying opportunities for enhanced transparency and increased public engagement in the budgeting process.
Also in the upcoming week, he hopes to meet with the Directors of Budget and Office of Information Technology to execute a plan to release budget information online for County residents to review and consider along with working with County Council members in order to set up cabinet in the community meetings with his staff.
“These are just the first steps toward fulfilling the vision we laid out. There is so much to do. And I could not be more excited to get to work.”
Olszewski also thanked outgoing County Executive Don Mohler for “stepping into unknown circumstances and leading with your heart” following the death of Kevin Kamenetz earlier this year.
Mohler said he was happy to pass the job to Olszewski, saying that they had worked together years ago.
“He had a vision and a way of analyzing issues that has just gotten stronger and stronger and stronger over the years,” said Mohler. “He saw it all the way back then. He is a man who has his values in order. He is simply good people.”
The County Council members sworn-in included incumbents 5th District Councilman David Marks (R), 6th District Councilwoman Cathy Bevins (D), and 7th District Councilman Todd Crandell (R).
Other members sworn into the Baltimore County government were Judges of the Circuit Court, Carey Deeley, Michael Finifter, Ruth Jakubowski and Dennis Robinson, the Judges of the Orphans Court, William Evans, Juliet Fisher and Arthur Frank, Sheriff R. Jay Fisher, Register of Wills Grace Connolly, and members of the Board of Education Kathleen S. Causey, Roger B. Hayden, Julie C. Henn, Moalie S. Jose, Russell T. Kuehn, Lisa A. Mack, Rod McMillion, John H. Offerman Jr., Cheryl E. Pasteur, Lily P. Rowe and Makeda Scott.
“How fitting that we are all sworn in together?” said Olszewski. “Fitting because we’re all on the same team and because the challenges we face must be tackled by each and every one of us working collectively and in partnership. Together, we will never put partisanship, or pride, ahead of progress for our people.”
The inaugural ceremonies took place at Towson University’s SECU Arena.