Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and members of his cabinet kicked off today's tour of Howard County, with visits scheduled to county businesses and institutions, on a somber note.
The morning was overshadowed by the sudden death of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford opened the morning's regional cabinet meeting, at the Miller Branch Library in Ellicott City, with a moment of silence for the longtime politician and Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
As he arrived in Ellicott City, Hogan told reporters that he was shocked when he got word of Kamentez's death shortly before 5 a.m. The Republican governor, who is seeking re-election, declined to touch on how the governor's race could be reshaped.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his family . . . He was a man who dedicated his life to public service and spent decades working for the people of Baltimore County. He's going to be be greatly missed," Hogan said. "It's obvious he had a major impact and had been for 20-some years a fixture in Baltimore politics. Talking about politics today is probably not the right thing, but certainly he's going to be tough to replace."
Hogan and his team praised the achievements of Howard County during remarks, highlighting recent transportation initiatives such as the widening of Route 32, the county's commitment to enhancing school security and the resilience of historic Ellicott City nearly two years after a deadly flood.
The governor, accompanied by members of his cabinet and aides, has made similar visits in to Washington, Carroll and Baltimore counties.
County Executive Allan Kittleman, who will spend much of the day with Hogan, sent his condolences to Kamenetz's wife Jill and their two sons. Kittleman said it is a "very sad day not just for the citizens of Baltimore County, but for all of Maryland."
"You could just see the pride that he had for Baltimore County and all of the great things that are happening in Baltimore County," Kittleman said before the event. "We've all been very fortunate to have Kevin as a leader there for over 25 years and Baltimore County has a bright future because of what Kevin Kamenetz has done."
Kittleman focused his remarks on the development of downtown Columbia and the Gateway Innovation District, a core of his economic platform. Kittleman praised County Council Chairwoman Mary Kay Sigaty and her efforts to bring downtown Columbia to life.
Hogan's cabinet gave more than dozen state recognitions to various county officials and volunteers, as well as recognized retiring longtime state legislators, state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer and Del. Frank Turner, both Democrats.
Hogan is scheduled to make seven stops during his day, including at Howard Community College to highlight the recent passage of the Maryland College Promise Bill and at a ribbon cutting for email delivery service company Sparkpost in Columbia.