Howard County Councilman Calvin Ball announced Thursday he will run for county executive in the November 2018 elections.
Ball is a Democrat who represents District 2, including Long Reach and Oakland Mills in Columbia as well as portions of Ellicott City, Elkridge and Jessup. He has served on the council since 2006.
County Executive Allan Kittleman, a Republican, announced in June that he would seek re-election to a second term.
Ball’s announcement comes after months of speculation over plans for his political future, as his third and final term on the County Council ends in 2018 due to term limits.
Walking in to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” Ball, accompanied by his wife Shani and daughters Alexis and Alyssa, made his announcement Thursday night surrounded by supporters at Kahler Hall in Columbia.
“I call upon each of us to stand up and speak out for decency and dignity, because that is who we are in Howard County and that is who we should be,” Ball said during his announcement speech. “Like the people’s tree that has so well defined Columbia. . . I stand before all of you and ask us to reach higher.”
Ball is a Maryland native and has lived in Columbia since 1999.
Several local officials and candidates were in attendance at the announcement, including state senator Guy Guzzone and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Ball criticized local and national leaders for being “silent” in recent months instead of standing up against division caused by President Donald Trump. However, he emphasized that he wanted to engage in a positive political debate during the upcoming election and to stay away from personal attacks, calling Kittleman “a good and decent man.”
“As a leader on the County Council I’ve encouraged rigorous debate with civility, that recognizes that our first priority must be always to the promotion of good government and to the people of Howard County,” Ball said. “I’m excited over the next coming months to put forward a robust agenda that will reflect our shared values and ideals.”
Earlier this year, Ball co-sponsored a failed bill to label the county a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants. He has also been a vocal opponent in recent weeks against the county’s proposed legislation to regulate mulching practices, and of the public financing deal in downtown Columbia, which he and Councilwoman Jen Terrasa unsuccessfully attempted to repeal.
The first challenger to County Executive Allan Kittleman has filed to run in the 2018 election, as well as the first Democrat in the race for the District 5 County Council seat and the first candidate in the District 9 state Senate race.
During his time on the council, Ball championed a number of other efforts, including legislation to require a certain percentage of the food and drink offerings in county vending machines meet a set of caloric, fat and sugar guidelines. He was also one of the leading calls for a county audit of the school system last year.
Ball has been a vocal critic of Kittleman as county executive, and his announcement to run for county executive comes after months of speculation.
Ball is the first major candidate to launch a campaign for Kittleman’s seat; Republican Darren Vilus filed to run in August, but withdrew in September.
“We know that we need a leader with a vision to have the best quality of life imaginable for each and everyone of us,” Ball said. “We will unite against division, we will come together, we’ll give voice to the voiceless and we will unite. Because we will be beacons of all that is best about humanity.”
Kittleman held one of his own first campaign events of the season on Wednesday, as the Howard County Professional Fire Fighters Association gave the county executive its endorsement. It was the first time the group has endorsed a Republican for county executive, according to a statement from association representative Rich Ruehl.