Monday, January 2, 2017

A Very "Special" County Executive Preview

From the Desk of S. MacCune
Political Consultant (Ret.?)
Licensed Alpaca Broker
Phrenologist (Blue Belt)

I admit that my connection to Howard County is attenuated. So when the proprietor of Spartan Considerations asked me to pen a Guest Column, my first question was, how much cash on the barrelhead?  JB launched into some bullshit about the spirit of public service; which I knew meant the “thrifty” bastard wasn’t going to part with Dime One.  After reminding me how many times he picked me up from various Eastern Seaboard airports over the years (as if I can drive my Alfa across the Atlantic), I generously agreed to volunteer my talents for this assignment.      

Although I taught JB everything he knew, or could hope to know, I did have two more questions before I could write this piece:  Who are these people and can I write as I talk?  On the former, he gave me the low-down, on the latter, he said “sparingly.”  Fucking A right. 

So, here is my learned perspective on the County Executive race, which I guess is what passes for hot action in certain [square] circles.  Soak it in.  Soak it ALL in.

Incumbent:  Allan Kittleman.  Look, my read is that Gov. Hogan may not run for re-election, in which case AK (Note: do they call him AK?) looks like a decent gubernatorial candidate.  Moderate in personality if not in policy or appointments, he profiles well for a Republican seeking statewide office in Maryland…and by 2018, what’s left of the Establishment Republican Party might be looking hard at folks like AK to keep the hordes from burning down the rest of the barn.  But let’s say he runs for re-election, he starts with a 42% base in a bad GOP cycle and 45% in a good one.  Given his history, he is unlikely to lose in a blow-out but national trends and unforced errors could send him packing after one term.

Possible Challengers (those receiving the most mentions)

Dr. Calvin Ball. Second Council District.   Democrat.  Well-known, well-liked, and well-respected Council Member.  Big on financial literacy (Note: with Education as the most salient issue in HoCo by a country mile, how important is the financial literacy point of differentiation within the larger Jobs/Economy matrix?).  Former community organizer.  Represents a large chunk of Columbia.  Also an educator (See earlier note re: education).   From what I hear, he’s held the “presumptive frontrunner” slot since mid-November of ’14.  There was no primary last time around for CE.  Will that hold a second time around?  I would be skeptical.

Mary Kay Sigaty.  Fourth Council District.  Democrat.  West Columbia + some parts South.  Has emerged as a big Downtown Development advocate over the course of her tenure on the Council. Faced challenges from Slower Growth advocates in her backyard.   Visible on TIF funding to grow downtown Columbia even further (note:  I wasn’t aware the area by the Columbia Mall was blighted, did a dumpster overflow once?).  Qualified for CE? Sure.  Rationale for her candidacy yet?  Not so much from what I hear.

Bill Woodcock.  Oakland Mills. Democrat.  Long-time activist in Democratic party politics? Check.  Knows public policy and how government services are administered? Check.  Willing to take the fight to the GOP nominee and make a case for a progressive governing vision?  Check.  An outsider choice?  Apparently. 

Other Potentials…(not mentioned as often, but the names pop up…)

Jen Terrasa.  Third Council District.  Democrat.  Southern/Eastern HoCo.  High profile in recent months with a differing take on the need for TIF funding for Downtown Columbia.  JB passed along some speculation about JT possibly being Annapolis-bound at some point.  Who knows. 

Note: no wonder why JB writes less these days.  Almost 600 words in.  I am parched for lack of Aberlour.  

Courtney Watson.  Former First District Council Member, former Board of Education Member.  Standard-bearer for the Democratic Party in ’14 as the CE nominee.  Ran into a buzz-fucking-saw of an election year.  Would have won in 8 out of 10 election cycles.  Retains high Name ID.  Serious policy wonk.  Does she want a re-match? 

Delegate Clarence (the Doc) Lam.  Conventional Wisdom is that Annapolis is a better fit…although not necessarily the House of Delegates. According to observers, look for a shake-up in the D12 Slate for ’18.

Ken Ulman.  Former CE.  Might be a loophole allowing him to seek a third term.  US Grant thought about it, Teddy Roosevelt wanted to, as did Woodrow Wilson.  Didn’t work out for them, and some think it might be tough sledding for Ulman if he went down the Comeback Lane.

Tom Coale.  Attorney.  Ellicott City booster.  Whispers but the smart money is on a big PASS for Coale in ’18.  Maybe Annapolis down the road or a County office in a future cycle.

So all of this is third hand anyway.  Speculation and musings from Maryland’s Heartland. 

Let’s see who reads this far.  What does JB write? “Stay tuned as….” Screw it, who wants an alpaca?  They make great pets.  They eat Combos, no muss, no fuss. Email me. Let’s make some moves.         

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