Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley said she doesn’t have specific plans for what she will do after she leaves the department this summer.
You can’t really do one job if you’re focused on the next one, she said.
Swaim-Staley announced Monday that she will step down in July after nearly three years in her position.
In a statement, Swaim-Staley said, “I chose to make transportation the focus of my government service because I believe it is one of those key areas of government where you can make a positive impact on the lives of citizens across the state.”
Swaim-Staley, the first woman to serve in the position, was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in September 2009 after serving as deputy transportation secretary from 1999 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2009.
Swaim-Staley said she doesn't have any immediate plans for what she will do next, but was at a point in her life where she needed to move on — something that was difficult to tell O’Malley.
"I've never received anything but tremendous support from the governor," she said in a later interview. "I've had a wonderful time in the public sector."
In her previous government service, Swaim-Staley also was assistant director of financial management for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and an analyst for the state Department of Legislative Services. Her resignation will take effect July 1, according to a statement from the governor's office.
During her tenure as secretary, Swaim-Staley oversaw technology upgrades at the Motor Vehicle Administration and helped make sure MARC trains ran reliably and on-time.
Her tenure also included the opening of the Intercounty Connector, the toll highway that links Interstate 95 to I-270, and the establishment of a public-private partnership to operate the Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore.
As a result of that partnership, the Port of Baltimore soon will become only the second port on the East Coast that will be able to accommodate a new, larger class of cargo ships, Swaim-Staley said.
As deputy secretary, Swaim-Staley oversaw operations and security enhancements at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“When Beverley joined our team over five years ago, she was widely recognized for her seasoned leadership,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Beverley guided our transportation efforts during the most difficult economic downturn this country has faced in generations.”
Swaim-Staley is a hard worker and dedicated public servant, said Gus Bauman, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who chaired the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding, established in 2010 to recommend solutions to the state’s ongoing infrastructure needs.
“She’s the kind of public official you want to deal with,” he said, “forthright, honest, plain-speaking.”
Swaim-Staley also got a hat tip from state Comptroller Peter Franchot at a meeting of the Board of Public Works on Wednesday in Annapolis. Praising her quiet, selfless manner, Franchot said one “never doubted her motives or commitment to stretching taxpayer dollars as far as they could go.”
State Republicans, however, took a different view of Swaim-Staley’s performance, arguing that she left a legacy of poor highway planning and intense traffic.
“She will be best remembered for providing Marylanders with roads that look like the surface of the moon, outrageous fare increase and public transportation that is some of the worst in the nation,” David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said in a statement.
The standard cash fare for cars crossing the Bay Bridge increased from $2.50 to $4 in 2011, with an increase to $6 expected in 2013.
Ferguson also pointed to a 2011 audit that found ethical violations in the way some contracts were handled by the State Highway Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation.
Swaim-Staley told lawmakers in December that the issues were being addressed and that several people who worked in the troubled areas were no longer employed with SHA.
The secretary’s resignation comes following a tumultuous General Assembly session in which a key initiative of O’Malley, applying the state’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline to raise money for transportation projects, failed to pass.