Kittleman's approval rating hits 69 percent, committee says

Kittleman's committee says the results of recent polls are pleasing.

Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman's approval rating is 69 percent, according to a poll by the Committee to Elect Allan Kittleman this month.

Kittleman declined to comment on the approval rating, citing it was not "a government matter," according to county spokesman Andy Barth. The committee did not disclose additional information about the poll, including its parameters and the standard error.

"We do not normally make the data public, but I was pleased to learn that the majority of people in Howard County are optimistic about where the county is headed and that Allan's approval rating was 69 percent with only 9 percent disapproving," wrote campaign manager Sean Murphy in an email.

The committee did not comment on the remaining 22 percent. The poll was conducted over the phone, Murphy wrote.

Questions on a recent poll — provided by local resident and blogger Bill Woodcock — varied from an open-ended question about the county's response to the snowstorm to closed questions about increasing the property tax for school funding, the proposed phase-out of the stormwater remediation fee and funding for police body cameras.

The committee also garnered favorability ratings for public officials like County Council Chairman Calvin Ball, Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty and the county's register of wills, Byron Macfarlane.

"I'm flattered to have been included but I have to say I'm astonished to see polling being done barely a year into our term," said Macfarlane. "And I would be more concerned with the next snowstorm than the next election."

Ball echoed Macfarlane's comments.

"I'm surprised and disappointed that critical Howard County issues like his interest in tax increases, funding education or body cameras are being tossed around as political footballs when what is needed is leadership. It may be better for our community if, instead of leading by poll, Mr. Kittleman chose either to focus on articulating and implementing a vision or to have a transparent community conversation on real issues that matter to our community."

The poll also asked residents to assess Kittleman's term and indicate whether he deserves reelection in 2018.

Councilman Greg Fox said the poll was a routine procedure by a public official interested in finding out what matters to the public, just like a town hall. The poll should not be interpreted as a political attack, said Fox, adding gathering information from the public about the handling of a snowstorm should not become “political.”

Abby Hendrix, chairwoman of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, questioned the accuracy of the poll.

"I'd be wary of any survey that is paid for and sponsored by an individual," Hendrix said. "Putting out a survey through your supporters through your campaign account is always going to yield positive results for yourself and less than positive results for the Democrats."

Independent polls with publicized results are necessary to yield accurate and representative opinions, she said.

Murphy said the committee has conducted phone surveys "each year since 2012."

Kittleman's election committee raised $571,995 and has $513,973 in its coffers, according to campaign finance reports filed in January. The filings with the Maryland State Board of Elections reflect the most recent reporting period ending Jan. 13.

Referring to the filings, Kittleman said he was "humbled and honored" by support from residents.

"I believe our fundraising progress is a direct result of our countless hours spent meeting with residents in every corner of the county," Kittleman wrote in a statement on Jan. 21.

The poll also asked if the county was moving in the right direction or if it was on the right track, the top issue the county executive and the council should work on and preferences for Maryland governor in 2018.

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