Saturday, April 21, 2018

The April 21 2018 AKA Forum


First, I want to thank the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Iota Lambda Omega Chapter) for hosting and running a highly informative candidate forum.

Full disclosure:  the present author left the event during the Howard County State’s Attorney & Sheriff panel.  Having arrived at 9:45 am and still very much feeling the aftereffects of a bout of food poisoning and lassitude, I was done by 3:45 pm.  This is unfortunate as I was very much looking forward to witnessing the presentations of Sabina Taj, Jen Mallo, and Robert Miller (three spectacular candidates for the Howard County Board of Education).  Moreover, I wanted to listen to the statements of the amazing Democratic Central Committee candidates that I saw in attendance, including most notably Maureen Evans Arthurs, Mae Beale, Ethel Brown-Hill, Mary Catherine Cochran, Bob Ford, Tim Lattimer, Dhaval Shah, and Herbie Smith.  If you aren’t listed here, it is because A) I didn’t spot you in the crowd (greetings to the other members of HoCo Forward) …or B) I am not planning on endorsing you.

Highlights:

It would be unfair for me to comment on the County Executive race as the only candidate for that office who cared enough to attend was Calvin Ball.  Kittleman was a no-show, as was Harry Dunbar. With so many Republican candidates present, I am not certain why a candidate who claims to put “people before politics” can’t seem to actually put people first and attend such public forums regularly. Keeping the alliteration going…pity.  Ball, meanwhile, delivered a stellar presentation.  

I enjoyed listening to Baltimore City Councilmember Brandon Scott deliver remarks on behalf of the Shea/Scott ticket.  Granted, I don’t think Shea…electorally…is going anywhere, but Scott has a future.  He is one of two LG candidates, Valerie Ervin being the other, that are more interesting than their running mates.

The stout hammer of the 12th, Dr. James Howard, brought the thunder to the event with a sharp rejoinder to Dario Broccolino’s comments on police violence.  Mr. Broccolino, while admitting its existence, appeared to downplay the frequency/impact of police violence in Howard County.  Dr. Howard indicated that that response indicated that Mr. Broccolino was “unfit to run” or that he “ticked the wrong box” (presumably referring to party affiliation).  Prior to those remarks, one observer commented that “Dozin’ Dario,” while on the stage, appeared to be resting his eyes for an extended period of time. 

Jessica Feldmark also connected with her statement to the effect that police violence is a manifestation of “systemic racism.”  Overall, Howard and Feldmark both turned in solid performances and demonstrated that they are serious contenders.

Regarding the County Council panel, it is important to first acknowledge three items:

1)    This blog supports the re-election of Jon Weinstein.  Ideologically, he may be to the right of Spartan Considerations, but his steady performance and hard work on a range of important issues shows his deep commitment to being an effective advocate for the people of the 1st County Council District.  Moreover, with so much turnover occurring this cycle, the County Council and the citizenry would greatly benefit from retaining his institutional knowledge.  His primary opponent, Liz Walsh, did not attend the forum.
2)    Barring the apocalypse, Opel Jones should be elected to Calvin Ball’s current seat on the County Council.  No one ever wants to take anything for granted and John Liao seems like a pleasant enough fellow…but a Blue Splash should be sufficient for a Democrat to retain the District 2 seat.    Mr. Jones will be an excellent Councilmember.
3)    Turning to District 5, China Williams could not attend so her campaign sent a surrogate who read a statement on her behalf. 
   
So the action boiled down to Districts 3 and 4.

District 3:  From a communications perspective, I thought they all exhibited skill-sets that one might expect to find with candidates seeking higher public office…say…State Senate.  This blog has previously announced its support for Steve Hunt, his knowledge of Howard County and the workings of local government would serve him and his constituents extremely well.  Taking off my advocate hat and putting on my commentator’s breeches, new-father Greg Jennings turned in a solid, approachable performance.  Fresh off of her HCEA endorsement, Christiana Rigby also delivered a strong presentation.  Admitted Wolverine Hiruy Hadgu stayed on-message, appealing to the anti-developer sentiments that he hopes will be sufficient to vault him to victory in a crowded Democratic field.  Granted, I was febrile and craving a Vernors at this point…so I might have misheard, but it sounded as though Jennings, as part of a one sentence, articulated a growth message that might appeal to…let’s call them “fair growth” voters.  A play for voters who might otherwise be soft-Hadgu supporters?  Was I hallucinating? If not, interesting positioning and a recognition that this race might be decided by thin slices of the electorate of the 3rd…many of whom might be inclined to harbor anti-developer tendencies.   

District 4:  This blog’s position on Siddiqui is well-known.  She delivered a haltering performance, one made weaker each time she vocalized her thoughts.  The electorate bounced her from office in 2016, rejecting her “whole child” claims.  So now, she is doubling down with a “whole community” platform.  Mold? Foose?  All over again but now with an intent on impacting the whole County and not just education-related matters?  And with her recent controversies?  Hard pass.   Deb Jung articulated a cohesive governing narrative and made a very strong case as to why her extensive legal background, combined with her “deep roots” in the County, position her to be a strong and effective advocate for the 4th.  Again, this blog endorses her candidature.  In other news, Ian Knudsen actually exists!
  
One last thing, State Senate 12, I am seeing more of the same pattern here.  Dr. Clarence Lam frames his points by talking about the issues he is working on for his constituents.  Mary Kay Sigaty, far too often, defaults back to an internal construct: “I am not done yet.”  Again, while that might be a motivation to act, it doesn’t get to the relational element of what precisely, are you going to do for the people in Howard and Baltimore Counties? Sigaty did eventually land on those points but Lam did a much more effective job of connecting policy debates with real world accomplishments that voters care about.  As I have said before, Lam is the better choice for the Senate seat.    

Any breaking news on the Board of Education, Central Committee, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Judge of the Orphans’ Court, or Register of Wills races?  Feel free to drop me a line at jasonabooms@gmail.com. 

In solidarity.

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