"I think that most people have great confidence in my understanding of government," said Ehrlich, a former public defender and prosecutor. She teaches at Anne Arundel Community College. "If the citizens of this county were to vote on this, I think I would win this hands down."

Some of the less traditional applicants say they have something to offer as well: a fresh perspective.

Laura Neuman, also of Annapolis, never sought election. She said in her current job as president and chief executive officer of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, she has a track record of working with elected officials, business leaders and residents, and an understanding of what it takes to get things done. She wants to bring that experience to her home county.

"Right now the focus needs to be to improve the operation of county, to increase transparency and on strong leadership," Neuman said.

Her example of her drive: More than a decade ago, her work in business captured the attention of what is now Loyola University Maryland, whose recruiters said she ought to apply for a master's degree in business. She told them the truth — she had finished neither high school nor college. The university waived the education requirement, and she completed the degree.

The vacancy at county executive has drawn people with varied backgrounds, from former congressional candidate and home improvement contractor Rick Hoover, to CSX Railroad employee Millard Snowden Sr.

Ingrid Dean, a former legal assistant, has been active in Young Republican and political campaigns. The Severna Park resident sought, but did not win, a seat on the county GOP Central Committee. She also lost a bid to be a Republican convention delegate.

The 29-year-old spent Valentine's Day on the application for county executive. Her chances of getting the job?

"I don't think they are high at all," she said. She believes she "could do a good job," but predicts the council will want "more of an establishment candidate."

Curtis Kingsland of Odenton hopes council members give an outsider fair consideration.

A father of three, former Air Force master sergeant and now a civilian employee of the Army, Kingsland said he has a lot in common with residents who work hard and try to raise solid families.

And he believes it might be time for a regular citizen to take the helm.

"It's America. Anybody can run, even for president," Kingsland said. "You got the gumption, you can do it."




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