Weeks after strongly hinting, and with the support of many Howard County and state officials, District 1 council member Courtney Watson formally announced Saturday that she will run for county executive.

Howard County Council member Courtney Watson raised close to half a million dollars in funds last year to use in her run for county executive, her campaign announced Monday. 

Watson collected $490,236 from supporters in 2013 and reported $721,238 cash on hand as the new year begins, officials from the campaign, Friends of Courtney Watson, said. 

Watson, a Democrat who has represented District 1 on the Council since 2006, announced her candidacy for county executive Sept. 21 in Columbia. Her Republican opponent for the seat, Allan Kittleman, has served in the state Senate since 2004. He announced his candidacy last June. 

Andy Barth, a spokesperson for the Kittleman campaign, said he didn't have fundraising numbers yet. But, he said, "We will file, of course, in a timely fashion." 

The campaign finance filing deadline for all state and local candidates is Wednesday, Jan. 15. 

According to her campaign, Watson's funds come from close to 1,000 donations, "from every zip code in Howard County, and every council and legislative district." 

Watson participated in 439 public events in 2013, according to her campaign. 

"I am committed to the people of Howard County and will continue to work hard to keep our schools, libraries and overall quality of life top in the nation while also figuring out the best solutions to the challenges we face," Watson said in a statement.