The Arbutus Roundtable honored Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot Monday afternoon with an honorary membership to the political club, making him only the second politician to ever receive the designation. Former governor Robert Ehrlich, an Arbutus native, is the other honorary knight.
The decision to recognize Franchot, said Clem Kaikis, a longtime member of the group of political aficionados, was easy.
In addition to the relationship the group has developed over the years with the comptroller, Franchot's popularity in a relatively thankless role has impressed many, Kaikis said.
Kaikis, the longtime owner of Paul's Restaurant in downtown Arbutus where the group meets, pointed out that Franchot received more than 1 million votes in each general election he has run in for comptroller. "To receive that many votes, he must be doing something right," Kaikis said.
"We first met Comptroller Franchot at the Beltway Motel in 2006," said the Roundtable's Salvatore "Mannie" Anello, referring to the group's earlier meeting spot on Washington Boulevard, in his introduction of the third-term state comptroller.
"This guy was like a pointy-headed liberal," he continued, noting there has been a marked right-ward swing in Franchot's policies since his 2006 victory.
Since that first meeting, Anello said, he and many other members of the Roundtable have been pleased to see Franchot's work in office. From challenging former Gov. Martin O'Malley on fiscal issues to creating an amicable relationship with the state's second Republican governor since the 1960s, Gov. Larry Hogan, Franchot has proven himself to be a friend of Arbutus and its residents, Anello told the crowd that included a host of county and state representatives..
After the introduction Franchot was presented with a plaque designating his status as an honorary knight — he received another plaque from Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond commemorating his work on unclaimed property.
The comptroller told the crowd, which included Dels. Terri Hill and Clarence Lam, who represent District 12 that includes Arbutus, Del. Antonio Hayes, who represents District 40 in Baltimore City and Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher, and a host of others, that Maryland is a great place, but has a lot of work to do.
The state needs to embrace a "strategy that welcomes private money," he said, adding that the private sector needs to lead economic growth and the state and local governments should play a supporting role.
"Being cautious with state spending to ensure that we have the cushion to endure the inevitable ups and downs," he said, is the role of government.
Working with Gov. Hogan, he said he plans to initiate changes in the Board of Public Works over the course of the next year. Those changes he said, would ensure that taxpayers are getting the best deal for their money.
When asked about a potential run for the U.S. Senate, Franchot insisted to the Roundtable that he had no plans to leave his current office.
"I like the idea of being around for a while and making a difference," he said. "Governors come and go, but comptrollers stay."