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Patricia Cushwa named to O'Malley's transition team

November 30, 1999|By TAMELA BAKER

WILLIAMSPORT ? Former state Sen. Patricia Cushwa said Friday she was "really surprised" and "flattered" to be named to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's transition team as he prepares to become Maryland's next governor.

Cushwa, of Williamsport, said House Minority Whip Anthony Brown, who was elected lieutenant governor this month, called her Thursday morning to offer her a spot on the transition committee.

She said Brown told her O'Malley was looking for the best people, and she told him she was looking out for "what's best for Western Maryland, so it sounds like a good marriage."

Cushwa is a former chairman of the Maryland Parole Commission, and presently serves on the federal parole commission.

Rick Abbruzzese, communications director for O'Malley's transition to governor, said Cushwa's expertise in the parole and probation field made her the right pick for the transition team.

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One of the issues for which O'Malley and running mate Anthony B. Brown campaigned was public safety reform, Abbruzzese said.

"She will be instrumental, I think, in helping guide though the transition process," Abbruzzese said.

Abbruzzese said the 42-member team's first organizational meeting is Tuesday morning.

"I truly believe I will have some say in the policy" developed for the Division of Correction, Cushwa said. She has not discussed a position for herself in the O'Malley administration, she said, but added that she never would say "no" to the Baltimore mayor.

"I would walk over hot coals for Martin O'Malley," Cushwa said.

Being on the transition team will allow her to influence policy in two areas she cares most about, she said ? corrections and community colleges. Cushwa is a former trustee of Hagerstown Community College.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said Friday he had spoken to Cushwa, and was delighted with her appointment.

"I think her credentials spoke for themselves," Donoghue said. "I think (O'Malley) picked 42 great people, and she's one of them.

He said he hoped her presence on the transition team would help Washington County influence the O'Malley administration's handling of the Division of Correction. Correctional officers' discontent with management of the division during the current administration proved to be a chronic thorn in Gov. Robert Ehrlich's side.

Citing her service as the former parole board chairman, Donoghue said Cushwa's appointment was "a perfect fit ? it certainly gives Washington County some hope to address the whole correctional facility situation."

Staff writer Tara Reilly contributed to this story.

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