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Councilmember Watson expected to announce Howard County executive run

'I will be announcing my decision about how I think I can best serve the county in the future'

By Amanda Yeager, ayeager@tribune.com

2:05 PM EDT, September 9, 2013

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Its almost official: District 1 County Councilmember Courtney Watson, a Democrat, has set the date that political observers expect will be her campaign announcement for a county executive run.

Watson is expected to announce her campaign at an event on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Columbia.

District 1 County Council candidate Jon Weinstein, a Democrat, tweeted an invitation to the special announcement Sept. 4. Watson posted the event to her Facebook page soon afterward. 

On Monday, Sept. 9, Watson wouldn't confirm that she would be announcing a county executive run. 

"I will be announcing my decision about how I think I can best serve the county in the future," she said. 

She said the decision had taken a long time to reach, and that she expected a good turnout for her event: "We will have a lot of people there, a lot of people interested in the future of the county." 

Current County Executive Ken Ulman said he would be at Watson's event on the 21st. “I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made together in Howard County over the last seven years," he said, in a statement, of his work with Watson, "and I look forward to being there on the 21st so that we can continue to make progress in Howard County."

Watson has recently attended several Howard County public events with Ulman, who is running for lieutenant governor of Maryland alongside current Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

Last week, the two visited Ducketts Lane, Elkridge and Bollman Bridge elementaries and River Hill High on a back-to-school tour. 

Watson, 51, of Ellicott City, is in her second term on the County Council. In District 1, she represents parts of Ellicott City, Elkridge and Hanover.

Watson's family has a legacy of community involvement in Howard County. Her father, Ed Cochran, was Howard County Executive from 1974 to 1978. Before he was elected to the county's top seat, he served on the Board of Education and County Council. 

District 9 State Sen. Allan Kittleman, a Republican from West Friendship who announced his run for county executive in June, said he didn't want to be "presumptuous," but he welcomed Watson to the race if that's what she announces on the 21st. 

"I look forward to allowing the citizens of Howard County to compare our records and our positions," Kittleman said. "I hope we'll have plenty of opportunities for public debates and forums and I certainly welcome those." 

Howard County Democrats were enthusiastic about Watson's probable run for County Executive.

District 2 County Councilmember Calvin Ball, who has served with Watson on the council for the past two terms, said he strongly support[ed] her if she decides to run.

I think that she is a smart, hard-working public servant, Ball said. I think that she has definitely demonstrated a commitment, particularly with her service on the Board of Education and service on the County Council, and I think she will be phenomenal.

Clarence Lam, a member of the countys Democratic Central Committee and a candidate for District 12 in the Maryland House, said she would be a strong candidate for County Executive.

I think she has a legacy that she will be able to build on from the previous county executive, Lam said, adding, She has a lot of her own priorities and goals that will help advance the county in many ways. 

During her time on the County Council, Watson has served as chair of the Council and of the Zoning Board. 

Before serving on the County Council, Watson spent a term on the Howard County Board of Education from 2002 to 2006. For two of those years, she served as chairman of the Board. 

Watson is also involved in the business community. For the past  two decades, she has worked as vice president of regional insurance firm Rossmann-Hurt-Hoffman. 

Watson's announcement event is scheduled for Sept. 21 at 9:30 a.m. at Kahler Hall in Columbia.