A black female supervisor was passed over to lead the jail in 2002. An inexperienced white deputy appointed by Sheriff Voorhaar to the post of warden
No Experience Over Black Female Who Does
Commentary on the News
By Kenneth C. Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
Originally published in 2002
LEONARDTOWN — St. Mary’s Sheriff Richard Voorhaar has appointed a sheriff’s department sergeant with no proven administrative experience or experience in operating a detention center to take over as the warden of the county’s jail. As the new acting commander of the jail, Sgt. David Zylak will take over command of the jail with Lt. Lennon, a black female, passed over for possible promotion to the top post, and she will likely have to show Zylak how to do his job.
Evaughn Lennon retired from the Sheriff’s Department and became the case manager for St. Mary’s Country’s Substance Abuse Recovery Court, formerly Drug Court.
Senior sheriff’s deputies recently pressured Voorhaar into replacing former Detention Center Director Benny Hodges after several correctional officers objected to orders that Hodges had issued prohibiting jailers from reading materials unrelated to their jobs or sleeping at their duty posts.
Hodges, who suffered from chronic migraine headaches and occasionally would have to nap, was reported to Voorhaar to be sleeping on the job himself.
The sheriff finally gave in to the white top-level deputies who wanted the black jail director dismissed. Hodges finally resigned last month.
Zylak’s recent elevation in status comes with his promotion to the rank of sergeant two years ago after he married into a prominent large family, thereby increasing his political value to Voorhaar. Previously, Zylak was one of the agency’s longest-running corporals.
Another politically influenced appointment to the rank of sergeant, that of Edward Willenborg, a deputy for only eight years, came after he and his family made many campaign contributions to Voorhaar.
Willenborg is the son-in-law of real estate developer and attorney Oliver Guyther, a former Maryland delegate, and is also the brother-in-law of St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz. Zylak spent the previous ten years as a corporal, a longer time period than the entire career of Willenborg.
Captain Edward Willenborg – Participant in 1998 Election Interference ruled unconstitutional by the United States Court of Appeals was rewarded with promotions by good old boy Sheriffs Zylak, Cameron, and Hall
While most promotions made in the sheriff’s department elicit strong comments among the rank and file due to the usual circumstances that the promotions are not made from the top of the eligibility lists but rather are in fulfillment to campaign promises, the recent promotion of Willenborg has been producing a higher level of criticism than seen before.
But Zylak’s promotion may cause serious harm to the county as the jail operations account for a large percentage of lawsuits against the county and pose a serious risk. There have been two turnovers in the position of jail director in the past 18 months, and the instability of the jail operations may be yet another reason for the county commissioners to consider switching over to a professional county police department as well as assuming direct control of the detention center.
Without any experience or training in the operation of a detention center, Zylak will have two strikes against him, with the first being Lt. Lennon’s resentment at being passed over the opportunity herself. Lennon is a 20-year veteran of the facility, having been promoted through the ranks.
When it has been politically advantageous to Voorhaar, he has gone to political functions such as the annual Salt & Pepper dinner with his black top jail guard in tow to show those concerned about equal opportunities that he is serious about racial harmony and giving blacks a chance. As soon as the dinner is over,
Voorhaar dumps off his black lackey and continues his policy of discrimination, as evidenced by his almost exclusive hiring of white males as new deputies since taking office. Because the federal officials allow Voorhaar to count his total employment together, his racial hiring figures are good. That’s because he hires almost all blacks at the jail and almost all whites as deputies. If the St. Mary’s County Commissioners strip Voorhaar of the jail, he’ll have a hard time maintaining his policy of discrimination in hiring and promotions.