Anne Arundel County

Election 2018: Anne Arundel County Executive's race between Pittman and Schuh

The election filing deadline has come and past, and the match is set between Democrat Steuart Pittman and County Executive Steve Schuh, a Republican.

There are no primary challengers — a change from the 2014 race in which Schuh challenged then County Executive Laura Neuman.


A two-man race means both campaigns will likely be quiet as they raise money and play conductor to voter outreach efforts. The big spends on commercials and other electioneering will wait until after the primary June 26.

Pittman says he has no plans to endorse or choose Democratic candidates in the primary races.


The Davidsonville resident is owner of Dodon Farm Training Center. He has served as the Maryland Horse Council president and founded the Retired Racehorse Project.

“We are united because we see a path to victory,” Pittman said of county Democrats. “There is a sense we can flip the County Council to majority Democrat, and there is a strong feeling the county executive is vulnerable based on his record.”

Schuh said any candidate running is vulnerable, and they should run “like you are losing.” The Gibson Island Republican has served as county executive since 2014. Previously he served as Anne Arundel County delegate.

Schuh’s primary strategy is different than Pittman’s. He has already endorsed County Councilman Michael Peroutka in the District 5 race. Peroutka is serving as the council chairman and running for re-election in District 5.

The Millersville Republican survived an onslaught of constituents who called for his resignation because of past history with the League of the South as well as his support for former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct with women ages 14 to 18. Moore was in his 30’s during those relationships, The Washington Post reported. Moore denied the accusations.

The county executive’s strategy is to endorse incumbent candidates in good standing and to endorse candidates he knows personally or are close friends, such as Nathan Volke running for County Council in District 3.

Schuh also has backed Jessica Haire in the council District 7 race. This means Schuh has supported at least one Republican in each contested primary race.

“That’s purely coincidental,” Schuh said. “If the District 1 race had another Republican, I would not be endorsing that race.”


Fundraising, Grasso changes course

The county executive has out-raised Pittman by about a ten to one margin — though Schuh has the benefit of raising money as county executive. Pittman began raising funds in November. As of January’s campaign report, Schuh had about $1 million cash on hand compared to Pittman’s $103,000. Another campaign report must be filed by April 17.

Pittman said he doesn’t expect either campaign to invest heavily until it gets closer to the general elections. Schuh agreed.

Leading up to Tuesday’s filing deadline, Republican John Grasso was expected to run against Schuh.

Grasso has disagreed publicly with Schuh on issues, even blaming the administration for excessive development growth. But in a surprise move Tuesday, Grasso decided to run for state senate in District 32. His issues with Schuh haven’t gone to the wayside though.

Most recently Grasso called Schuh “two-faced” after the county executive revealed legislation that would halt zoning changes. Doing this would limit density increases until the county submits its General Development Plan to the council in December 2019.

Schuh’s spokesman said name-calling doesn’t help county residents and said the county executive’s plans were more focused than legislation previously proposed by Grasso. The county has previously halted zoning changes during the GDP process.


Big issues

As Pittman has been campaigning, he said he has heard residents list development as a major priority.

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The county government is holding listening sessions on its General Development Plan, a document created every eight years. The plan serves as the guiding factor for county zoning and what areas will be built up and what will be preserved.

Pittman plans for development to include a stricter focus on small area plans, including the ones already on the county books. Those are 20-year plans — some approaching the 17-year mark — and it is important for the county to update residents on their status, Pittman said.

Too much taxpayer money is used to subsidize development, such as the payment in lieu of taxes deal given to Live! Casino, he said. The deal forgives up to a maximum of $36 million taxes for the life of the deal in lieu of a yearly $1 payment from the casino company. Officials estimated actual property taxes forgiven would be lower than the maximum.

“We are going to be debating all of that during the campaign and making decisions about how we are open to development and where we are going to allow it,” Pittman said.

The crucial issue to Schuh is the county’s opioid crisis, with the last two years seeing record overdose deaths. Schuh defended his administration, saying they have put policies in place — like the safe station program — that have been effective, but it has taken time to see results.


It’s important to pay for these policies and continue to grow them, Schuh said. He said an increase in health care bed capacity will be announced but wouldn’t identify the partner organization.

“Anne Arundel County is the leading jurisdiction in the state in the fight against opiates,” Schuh said. “We are at the beginning of the end of the crisis. It is not over yet, and it is going to be a long battle.”