“Of the people, by the people, for the people …”
Simple but powerful words rooted in a simple but powerful idea: The work of government is about people, carried out by people, for people. Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller and I are committed to ensuring Maryland’s state government is people-centered — in every way.
This means our government represents Marylanders with the best and most diverse talent. We leverage people, our greatest asset, to work for Marylanders. And we are driven every day by Marylanders’ priorities and needs. To do this, we need to rebuild state government, starting with expanding our definition of — and the front door to — public service.
We will build back up our workforce, which for nearly a decade has been in decline. The number of executive branch positions has dropped by 2,000 since 2013, and the vacancy rate for remaining positions has climbed to 13%, or 6,500 empty executive branch seats. This understaffing has impeded resident access to the most basic services — from months-long delays in the issuance of nursing licenses and overburdened public defenders unable to meet demand for legal counsel to chronically unreliable MTA bus service. We’ve started to rebuild our state workforce by appointing a Cabinet of leaders that is as representative of Maryland as it is exceptional.
Before assuming her role as acting planning secretary, Rebecca Flora ran a women-owned sustainability consultancy on the Eastern Shore. Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Woods is a distinguished military veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, earning a Bronze Star for his service. Acting Secretary of Housing and Community Development Jake Day, another distinguished veteran, was Mayor of Salisbury, where he oversaw the fastest rate of population growth in Maryland and the seventh-fastest-growing job market in America.
Acting Secretary of Health Laura Herrera Scott served as the Baltimore City Health Department’s top doctor and has led public health initiatives in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Acting Labor Secretary Portia Wu has spent her career advancing policies that champion America’s workers. And returning home to Maryland from California where she served as undersecretary of the California EPA, Acting Secretary of the Environment Serena McIlwain will implement our clean energy priorities with efficiency and innovation.
To build our Cabinet, we reached far and wide. We demanded track records of exemplary leadership and prioritized representativeness –– in terms of geography, lived experience, perspective and identity. And now, with just days in office, these secretaries are setting that same tone for recruiting the talent we need to ensure that state government fires on all cylinders again.
We are also elevating the profile of Maryland’s nearly 600 boards and commissions, largely volunteer leadership bodies that guide policy, operations and vital programs that impact all Marylanders — but who work largely under the public radar. These are the public servants who issue licenses to doctors, architects and amusement park operators; who set training standards for police, teachers and 911 responders; who make sure that all Marylanders can access the arts; who safeguard and promote our state’s African American heritage; who set economic development policy and oversee government efforts to attract and retain businesses.
Our boards and commissions represent an opportunity for thousands of Marylanders with every kind of expertise and experience to serve in state government. And we are committed to making sure all Marylanders know about this opportunity and to recruiting members who fully represent our state. I have tapped Appointments Secretary Tisha Edwards to lead this effort to promote and connect communities statewide to our boards and commissions, and to ensure they represent the constituencies they serve. The appointments team has shown an unprecedented commitment to engaging the community through a lens of equity and inclusion. The Appointments Office is currently focused on appointments that require Senate confirmation this legislative session. I urge all Marylanders to check out the list of boards that do not require Senate confirmation at govappointments.maryland.gov.
Finally, we are launching a year-long public service program for high school graduates, creating for them an opportunity to serve and grow professionally, and for state government, a pipeline of future public servants.
To rebuild state government — to truly make it of the people, by the people, for the people — we must partner across every sector and every community, and we must expand on existing opportunities to engage with government and serve. With the perspective and contributions of all Marylanders, we will ensure that no one is left behind.
Wes Moore is the 63rd governor of Maryland