ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, the first woman to lead the department, said Monday she is stepping down from her post July 1 after 25 years of service.
The 55-year-old didn’t say what she plans to do next.
“I’m getting to a place in my life where if I want to do something different, maybe before I retire, I think it’s a good
time to do that,” she said.
Gov. Martin O’Malley named Swaim-Staley secretary in 2009.
“Throughout her tenure, she has solidified her reputation as a skilled and forward-thinking executive,” O’Malley said in a
statement. “With her strong background in both finance and transportation, Beverley guided our transportation efforts during the most difficult economic downturn this country has faced in generations.”
Leaving the department was a personal choice and Swaim-Staley said no one asked her to step down.
“It was not easy for me to tell them that I had come to this decision,” she said. “But no, it was totally something I think I
want to do.”
Swaim-Staley recently underscored the state’s transportation funding woes, pointing to the need for revenue to fund projects across Maryland.
She served on a commission that recommended the legislature increase the tax on gasoline by 15 cents over three years to pay for road improvements and other projects. Neither that proposal nor a recommendation from O’Malley to apply the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline was approved by the legislature this year.
“Frankly there’s a lot of things that we’ve been able to accomplish even in the downturn of the economy,” she said.
“There’s always more you can do, but I’m very pleased with this department and everything the team here has accomplished.”
Previously, Swaim-Staley served as deputy transportation secretary and oversaw changes in security at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In his statement, O’Malley credits Swaim-Staley with guiding projects including a public-private partnership at the Port of Baltimore and the opening of the Intercounty Connector, a highway connecting interstates in the Washington suburbs.
Republicans cheered her resignation, blaming Swaim-Staley for traffic congestion and decrepit roadways.
GOP executive director David Ferguson said he hoped the next transportation chief would be a “business-conscious, non-political individual.”
“I hope the next Governor will embrace responsible transportation policies that allow Marylanders to once again freely
travel around the Free State,” Ferguson said in a statement.
Gov. O’Malley will appoint Swaim-Staley’s replacement, but discussions about her successor are just beginning, said Takirra Winfield, an O’Malley spokeswoman.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)