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Kittleman names Michael Davis to head transition team

A day after being elected Howard's next county executive, state Sen. Allan Kittleman announced Nov. 5 that he had chosen attorney Michael Davis to lead his transition team.

Kittleman said Davis, a senior partner at the law firm Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, has been a friend "for many, many, many years."

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Davis, who specializes in estate planning at the Columbia-based firm, previously chaired a transition team for Howard County's first Republican executive, Charles Ecker, when Ecker was elected in 1990. He also served as a member on departing County Executive Ken Ulman's transition team in 2006.

Davis and Kittleman, who defeated Democratic County Councilwoman Courtney Watson in the race for executive, were expected to announce the remaining members of the transition team at a press conference in Columbia's Ascend One building on Wednesday.

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In an interview on Tuesday, Davis said the team's mandate would be "simple."

The transition team's approach, he said, would be to look at "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats" across the county's departments.

"It's basically a risks assessment," he said of the task.

He said the team's work would likely be different than it was in 1990 when he chaired Ecker's committee.

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"In 1990, when Chuck Ecker won, there was a lot of frustration in the community over how the government was operating," he said. "The community was much more up in the air as to various issues. Prior to this election, most of the community was pretty happy with where we were."

But, he added, "there are still challenges to be met."

One task for the transition team likely will be to take a look at the Department of Citizen Services, which includes the county's Office of Aging. During his campaign, Kittleman promised to turn the office into its own Department of Aging, in recognition of the importance of planning for the county's growing senior population.

Kittleman has also been critical of the county's Department of Planning and Zoning. At an August town hall in Glenwood, he charged that "the leadership of the county has allowed the Department of Planning and Zoning to be controlled by a few people."

While his attention has been focused on ironing out details before he takes office Dec. 1, Kittleman offered some thoughts Nov. 5 about the way he plans to govern in Ellicott City.

He said he thought the county could benefit from the presence of governor-elect Larry Hogan, a Republican, in Annapolis.

"I have good relationships with people in the state anyway," he said. "I always felt like I would be able to work with a Democratic administration as well, but having a Hogan administration might even be better for Howard County because now I will have that [closer] relationship."

Kittleman reiterated a campaign promise to travel to Annapolis and support legislation that would benefit Howard countians. "Anything that's going to help the citizens of Howard County, I'll work hard to make it happen," he said.

In the first days of his administration, Kittleman said, his "foremost attention is going to be focused on education and implementing a 24/7 campaign to strengthen schools and families."

He also said he would focus on launching HoCo Stat, a government audit program intended to increase transparency and accountability in Howard government.

The day after he was elected, Kittleman spoke on the phone Wednesday with Senate President Mike Miller. "I appreciate the respect he's shown me, and I look forward to working with him in the future," Kittleman said.

He also spoke with departing County Executive Ken Ulman, who "offered me congratulations and has very graciously agreed to help in any way he can" with the transition.

In an interview on Election Night as his victory became apparent, Kittleman said he was "feeling very grateful for all the support. I was cautiously optimistic from what I was hearing from people, and our polling showed us ahead by a few points. But it would never have happened without the Democrats, Republicans and independents who voted for me in the county."

"I think a lot of people want to have a government that they can trust and that will trust them. I'm looking forward to getting working on that," he said.

Regarding the prospects for working with a council dominated by Democrats, he said, "All my time in elected office, I've worked well with both sides across the aisle. We need to have a government that works together."

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