Baltimore County Council may discuss Kevin Kamenetz replacement process on Tuesday

The Baltimore County Council may begin discussions Tuesday on the process to replace the late county executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died last week after suffering cardiac arrest.

Council Chairman Julian Jones said he wanted to wait until after the Kamenetz family completed Jewish funeral traditions before publicly discussing how to replace him. The family’s final night of sitting shiva was scheduled for Monday night.

“We’ll just go from there, see who’s on everybody’s mind,” said Jones, a Woodstock Democrat.

For now, the acting county executive is Fred Homan, who was Kamenetz’s county administrative officer, and automatically assumed the executive post after Kamenetz’s death.

The county charter — the document that spells out how county government operates — leaves the decision of naming a permanent replacement to the County Council. The seven-member council must decide on a replacement by a majority vote. The charter does not include a timeline for filling a vacancy for county executive.

There are some guidelines, however. The replacement must be of the same political party — Kamenetz was a Democrat — and must meet the basic requirements for the office, including being at least 25, a registered voter and a county resident for at least five years.

A replacement county executive would finish the rest of Kamenetz’s term, which runs through early December.

Jones said he’s been advised that the council could take a vote at either a regular meeting or a work session. “It would be, as I understand it, just like any other motion — like how we elect a chairman,” Jones said.

Council members have budget review sessions scheduled Tuesday and Thursday this week. The next regular meeting of the council is planned for May 24, when a vote on the budget is planned.

As chairman, Jones also could call a special council meeting to consider a replacement county executive.

“I guess we’ll figure it out and people will start to have to show their hands come tomorrow,” Jones said Monday. “Then we’ll decide.”

The last time Baltimore County had to replace a county executive was in 1974, when then-executive Dale Anderson was convicted of extortion and other charges. The council picked the county’s administrative officer, Frederick L. Dewberry Jr., to complete Anderson’s term.

In 2013, the Anne Arundel County Council was faced with replacing John R. Leopold, who resigned as county executive after being found guilty of misconduct in office. The council put out a call for applicants, drawing 16 people. Following public interviews, the council voted to select Laura Neuman, who at the time was an Annapolis resident working as Howard County’s economic development director. Neuman later ran for a full term, but was beaten in the 2014 Republican primary by Steve Schuh, who is now county executive.

pwood@baltsun.com

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