ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Martin O’Malley named United Way executive Alexander M. Sanchez to be the state’s secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at a press conference Tuesday.
As secretary, Sanchez will oversee almost 2,000 employees and address such issues as financial regulation, home foreclosure and workplace safety. While the state senate must approve his nomination, Sanchez will begin as acting secretary in October and replace Secretary Thomas E. Perez, who has been nominated by the Obama administration to lead the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
“Tom [Perez] has left some big shoes to fill, but we have found a great person in Alexander Sanchez,” O’Malley said at the press conference. “He’s dedicated his entire career to public service, to giving voice to the voiceless and protecting the most vulnerable members of society.”
O’Malley touted Sanchez’s experience at the United Way of America, where he served as the senior vice president for community impact, as well as his connections to organized labor — Sanchez was a unionized construction worker during his summers in college.
Sanchez grew up in Cleveland, the son of Alfonso Sanchez, a construction company employee, and Georgia Sanchez, a stay-at-home mother and teacher.
After graduating from Boston College in 1990, Sanchez went on to receive both a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife Evelyn, a stay-at-home mother, have three young children.
Patrick Moran, director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) of Maryland, said in a statement that he wished Sanchez well and looks forward to working with him in the “same professional and efficient manner” that AFSCME has worked with Perez.
During his remarks, O’Malley noted Sanchez’s experience as a bankruptcy attorney, which he said will benefit the state as it tackles the continuing home foreclosure crisis.
The governor said the state “might need to be more pro-active in requiring — in a mandatory way — mediation before foreclosures proceed.”
Sanchez will take Perez’s place as the only Hispanic serving in the governor’s cabinet. Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for O’Malley, said maintaining diversity in the cabinet played a role in the governor’s nomination of Sanchez.
“[Gov. O’Malley] wants to make sure that the cabinet reflects the diversity of the state,” Adamec said.
Upon accepting the nomination, Sanchez stressed he will continue the work of outgoing Secretary Perez in creating workforce development programs and preserving job safety.
Sanchez currently lives in Virginia but has said publicly he is planning to move to Maryland soon.
“I’m excited to face the challenges inherent in the position and I’m grateful to have been selected to meet those unique challenges,” Sanchez said.