For Eric Bouchat, being redrawn into District 9A was a homecoming of sorts. The Republican candidate for the House of Delegates is a Howard County native, graduated from Howard High School in 1985 and lived in Howard County for several years before moving to the Carroll County side of Woodbine.
Late last month, Bouchat held his fifth annual Ravens-game bull roast fundraiser at the Winfield Fire Department in Sykesville.
He said the roast was a laid-back, "grassroots" event.
"Nobody dressed up, people were in Ravens gear," he said. "It's not a high-dollar event." Tickets for the fundraiser were $50 for individuals and $450 for tables of 10.
According to the invitation, the fundraiser featured "[four] large flat screen TVs playing the game" and "all you can eat and drink" — pit beef, fried chicken, salads, soda and beer.
"I do it every year and it's a blast," Bouchat said, noting that while the turnout wasn't quite at the level he would have liked because it was a Sunday evening, "it was a profitable event with a lot of sponsorship."
Bouchat, 46, who owns a welding company in Baltimore, has run for office several times before — the first being an unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives at age 24.
He also challenged state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer in District 12 in the 1994 elections and in 2010 ran for the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, coming in third out of five in a Republican primary.
Bouchat said he would file for the District 9A seat in the new year to avoid the hassle of filing financial disclosures multiple times in a matter of months.
He said the culture in southern Carroll County and western Howard is "the same.
"I've been active with both Republican parties in both counties, and they mix well," he said. "We're on the same page."
Bouchat said he thought he had a good shot at winning one of the district's two seats.
Carroll County voters, he said, would probably make up 30 percent of the District's electorate. "I'm the only candidate who's a Carroll County resident," he said. "The Howard County residents are watered down in the vote. In a five-man race, you can win with 25 percent."
But, he added, "all the candidates in this race are wonderful people. No matter who wins, the district will be well represented."
Howard County recently acquired two experienced new staffers and will soon see a wave of new appointees to several important boards, assuming the County Council moves forward with approving them.
Last month, County Executive Ken Ulman announced that the county had hired Stephen M. Rice as director of governmental affairs in the Office of County Administration and Jacqueline Scott as deputy director of the Department of Citizen Services.
Rice left his job as vice president of business development for the Howard County Economic Development Authority for the new post. Before that, he had worked at the Greater Baltimore Urban League and in the Maryland General Assembly.
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Scott, who holds bachelor, law and master's degrees from Georgetown University, has worked at the National Academy for State Health Policy, Health Care Dynamics International and the Governor's Offfice for Children, Youth and Families. She has served on the board of the Howard County Red Cross and on the county's Zoning Board of Appeals. In 2012, she ran unsuccessfully for a spot on the school board.
Ulman also recently nominated candidates for several prominent boards:
• Phillips Engelke has been nominated for the Planning Board, which lost two of its members earlier this year — Dave Grabowski left to campaign for a seat in Councilmanic District 1 and Paul Yelder moved out of state at the end of August. Engelke currently sits on the Howard County design advisory board and appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi show last year to talk about development in Columbia.
• Genevievette Walker-Lightfoot is a nominee for the Board of Appeals, the quasi-judicial body that rules on appeals of decisions made by the hearing examiner. The Columbia lawyer was the lead investigator for the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Bernie Madoff case and began to discover elements of Madoff's Ponzi scheme before she was removed from the investigation. She would replace current member Henry Eigles, whose term expired Dec. 31 of last year.
•Steven Hunt, who served on the Howard County Charter Review Commission in 2011, is also a nominee for the Board of Appeals. He would replace Maurice Simpkins, whose terms expires Dec. 31, 2013.
• Former Republican County Council member Charles Feaga has been nominated for the Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board. Feaga served three terms on the Council, from 1986 to 1998, and then again from 2005 to 2006 to replace former council member Allan Kittleman, who left to fill his late father's seat in the state Senate.