Barrett Leaves County To Join Schools

… ‘Timing, luck and opportunity are everything in life,’ says Bob Barrett, an important advisor to two county executive …

By Bryan P. Sears | Email the author | October 28, 2010

A senior staff member to two county executives will leave the county before the Nov. 2 election to take a new position as a senior advisor to county schools Superintendent Joe Hairston.

Bob Barrett, 59 and a resident of Upperco, said Thursday he will begin his new position as executive officer for community outreach with the schools system.

For the last eight years Barrett has served as the director of the county’s Department of Recreation and Parks under County Executive Jim Smith.

Before that, he was a top advisor to then-County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger. He was also Dutch’s liaison to the County Council and assisted with the executive’s communications efforts. In addition, Barrett’s real estate experience helped the county acquire land for regional parks and community centers.

Barrett’s new position appears to be a mix of all his experiences.

“As Dutch used to say, ‘Timing, luck and opportunity are everything in life,'” Barrett said Thursday.

In his new position, Barrett will work on communications and public outreach. He will also serve as a liaison with the new county executive and council as well as state legislators.

“It’s a pretty easy fit,” Barrett said of the move. “(The schools system’s) parents are our parents. Their constituents are our constituents.”

Barrett said he is not leaving because of the possibility of being replaced by the next county executive.

“I’ve known Kevin (Kamenetz) for 20 years and have a great relationship with him,” said Barrett, adding that he believes the four-term Democratic councilman and county executive candidate will be elected on Nov. 2.

Barrett got his start in county government more than 20 years ago as a part-time liquor inspector under then-County Executive Dennis Rasmussen. Barrett was an appointee recommended by Ruppersberger.

He continued to serve for three more years under Republican County Executive Roger Hayden. That ended abruptly when Barrett gave notice that he intended to leave the county to serve as Ruppersberger’s campaign chairman in 1994.

“I resigned on a Friday and got a letter saying my services were no longer needed on the next Monday,” Barrett said. “If the mail were delivered on Sunday, I think I would have gotten it then.”

Barrett left his real estate business, where he said he was making “in the six figures,” to take a position as a top aide to Ruppersberger making $58,000 annually.

Barrett now makes about $150,000, nearly the salary of the county executive. He said the move to the school system “is a lateral one” in terms of salary.

Smith has lost relatively few top staffers despite being in the final year of his final term.

Frank Principe, the county’s top lobbyist for the last seven years, left earlier this month to take a position as the top aide to state Department of Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley.

Erin  Roberts, Smith’s liaison to the Baltimore County Public Schools system, left earlier this year after giving birth to her second child.

Peter O’Malley, Smith’s chief of staff and brother of Martin O’Malley, left to join the governor’s re-election campaign.

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