Although she hasn't yet filed for re-election, embattled Howard County Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty won endorsements Thursday night from County Executive Ken Ulman and all four District 13 state legislators at a Wilde Lake fundraiser that drew well more than 100 people.
Sigaty is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary from Alan Klein, a leader among critics of the downtown Columbia rezoning that she championed. Her event also drew Calvin Ball and Jen Terrasa, the other two County Council Democrats who represent Columbia, and Senate Majority Leader Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Democrat who represents west Columbia, as well as county state's attorney Dario Broccolino.
The open endorsements are unusual in a party primary because they can split Democrats for the general election, though Sigaty's district is heavily Democratic. These particular endorsements are especially rare since Ulman was Sigaty's rival for County Council in 2002, beating her by 36 votes with the help and endorsement of then-County Executive James N. Robey, who is now state senator for District 13. Robey said he didn't know Sigaty well then, but did know Ulman and so endorsed him at the time.
"She's been an absolute pleasure to work with," Robey said. District 13, which is also represented by Dels. Guy Guzzone, Frank Turner and Shane Pendergrass, covers southeastern Howard, not Sigaty's area.
"This is a really, really important day for Howard County," Ulman told the crowd at a fondue restaurant in the Wilde Lake Village Center. "This officially is my endorsement. I am going to work tirelessly to make sure she's the councilperson."
Sigaty defended the council's vote on the 30-year downtown Columbia redevelopment plan.
"I believe that my council colleagues in a unanimous vote made a decision for the future when we said 'yes' to downtown Columbia," she said to cheers.
Klein said later he was not surprised by the events. "I assumed I was going to be up against the bulk of the Democratic elected body," he said. Del. Elizabeth Bobo, who represents West Columbia, has said she sympathizes with Klein's views but wouldn't work for him. Republican Tom D'Asto is waiting to face the winner in November.