Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman launched his 2018 re-election campaign Monday evening at the Columbia lakefront – the same location where he announced his candidacy for county executive four years ago.
More than 100 Howard County officials, business owners and residents gathered June 12, holding red and yellow campaign signs that read "Kittleman" and "Independent Leader – People, not politics." District 5 Councilman Greg Fox, Howard County Sheriff Bill McMahon and Howard County Fire Chief John Butler were among the crowd.
During his announcement, Kittleman detailed county accomplishments under his leadership since 2013, including eliminating a $15.8 million deficit, restructuring county government offices and establishing local business initiatives.
"I'm thrilled to have this many people to support us and I'm looking forward to the campaign. We'll have a lot of things to talk about," Kittleman said. "Howard County will hopefully have a bright future and people can expect our quality of life to continue to improve."
No other candidate has filed to run for county executive; however District 2 Councilman Calvin Ball said he is "strongly considering" his candidacy.
"I'm going to continue to listen to our community and their needs and see if there's a way to expand my service and if county executive is the best route to do that," Ball said. "If I do decide to run for county executive, it won't be to run against anyone; it'll be to run for Howard County."
With the primaries more than a year away, Ball said he will continue to work with the community before making a final decision.
The first Republican county executive since 1998, Kittleman succeeded former County Executive Ken Ulman in late 2014, promising to improve, not transform, the county under his administration.
Within a week of taking office, Kittleman replaced the head of the human rights office and the head of the communications department – both hired by Ulman. Kittleman also overturned an executive order that banned the sale of sugary drinks and high calories snacks in county buildings, a move that drew criticism from public health advocates and praise from local vendors.
Most recently, Kittleman has promised to veto legislation approved by the council to create a public finance system for candidates who turn down large donations.
The county will continue to work on many projects, Kittleman said, highlighting the ongoing effort to rebuild Ellicott City after last summer's devastating flood.
"I spent the first few weeks in jeans and a T-shirt," Kittleman said. "I traveled up and down Main Street every day making sure that folks had what they needed. It is amazing how much you can learn if you just close your mouth and listen. They let us know how we could help, whether it was keeping the road closed a little longer to relocating dumpsters."
Other future projects include the Route 1 action plan development, improving transportation and transit throughout the county and renovating or rebuilding aging structures, like the courthouse.
Tammy Beideman, owner of Sweet Elizabeth Jane clothing boutique on Main Street in Ellicott City, said Kittleman's responsive efforts after the July 30 flood helped get store owners get back in business in a timely fashion.
"My building is what they refer to as 'ground zero.' It was a very full 40,000-square-foot building that was emptied into the river," Beideman said. "Allan could be seen on Main Street every day, whether riding in a gold cart, giving a tour, meeting with business owners or visiting residents; anything he could do to make things better, that's where he seemed to be."
Fox said the Kittleman administration succeeds where the former Ulman administration did not in terms of their communication within the county government
“The mentality of the administration is night-and-day compared to how it was during the last administration as far as how we find things out,” Fox said. “We’ve got a great place, in general, because of the people who live here and they care about the county in many different ways.”
This story has been updated to correct a quote from Councilman Greg Fox.