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Howard County executive candidates release new round of TV ads

With less than two months to go until the general election, Howard County voters have been hearing a lot lately from both county executive candidates. Early this week, each campaign released a new TV ad.

County Councilwoman Courtney Watson, the Democratic candidate, has an ad emphasizing concerns about opponent Allan Kittleman's stance on gun control.

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"I know Sen. Allan Kittleman has been in Annapolis a long time. He's the NRA's guy, not mine," says a woman the campaign identified as a "Howard County mom."

The ad highlights Kittleman's 2013 vote against the Firearm Safety Act, which would have expanded background checks for gun buyers and banned 45 types of assault weapons.

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At a town hall in August, Kittleman said he thought the state's current gun laws were adequate.

"I think we have strong, common sense laws in Maryland," he told a group in Glenwood. "I support those."

His campaign, meanwhile, has focused on pushing back against what he has called "Washington-style" attacks on his record.

In his new TV ad, Kittleman looks straight into the camera and asks voters: "Are you tired of politicians filling your mailbox with trash?" before shaking his head. "I know I am, yet my opponent has spent thousands of dollars mailing out false claims about my record. Whatever happened to 'Choose Civility' in Howard County?"

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The "false claims" Kittleman mentions are a reference to a quote attributed to him in a 2006 Washington Examiner article, in which he supposedly said he would support allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons at school. The reporter who wrote the article later said the quote was inaccurate, and had been changed by editors to juice up the story.

Watson releases transparency platform

Watson's campaign also released its fourth platform Monday, a plan to increase government transparency.

The nine-point plan calls for the creation of a "new interactive web portal" that would provide "public access to information in usable and searchable formats and integrates the county's online files and data." Data, the platform continues, should be accessible, easy to search and posted in a timely manner.

Watson also proposes launching a website to track progress on meeting federal stormwater requirements. And She suggests expanding citizen access to the county executive's office through public input meetings, area coordinators assigned to different geographic regions and offering an opportunity for all citizens to view the annual state of the county address, traditionally delivered to Chamber of Commerce members.

At the state level, Watson says she will support the Howard delegation in clarifying referendum law.

"While our quality of life is high and the state of our county strong, we must also reaffirm the strength of the connection between the people and our county government," the platform reads. "There must be openness in words and in deeds, achieved through transparent actions and straightforward, honest and informed dialogue among all of us."

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