County Executive Allan Kittleman delivers his inaugural speech Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, after being sworn in at Glenelg High School in Glenelg. (Jon Sham/Baltimore Sun video)
Newly installed Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman hit the ground running on his first day in office Tuesday, announcing several key staffing positions as well as a list of initial priorities.
Kittleman named campaign manager Diane Wilson as his chief of staff. Wilson's resume includes a post as deputy secretary of Maryland's General Services Department during the administration of former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich, as well as a 2002 run for County Council against Democrat Guy Guzzone, then the incumbent in District 3. Wilson also served as an aide to former Republican councilman Dennis Schrader.
Lonnie Robbins, Howard's chief administrative officer under former County Executive Ken Ulman, will remain in his position. A county press release said Robbins "will have expanded responsibilities to complement the chief of staff."
The incoming county executive also shared a list of seven "first steps" -- all of which echoed campaign-trail promises -- for his early days in office.
Kittleman said he plans to take a closer look at several policies and initiatives, including the capital and operating budgets, the county's Mental Health Task Force and the adequate public facilities ordinance.
The ordinance, commonly called APFO, is a set of guidelines, last updated in 1992, that were designed to ensure Howard's infrastructure keeps pace with development. County activists have long said they are concerned the ordinance is outdated. Kittleman said he would soon name members to an Adequate Public Facilities task force to take a look at the current standards.
Budgetwise, Kittleman said he would look to the Spending Affordability Committee to review the county's capital and operating budgets for fiscal year 2016. The committee's "work to ensure fiscal responsibility would be vital under any circumstances but especially so now, when the administration will be looking to identify priorities and areas for savings in our current fiscal climate of challenging revenue forecasts," Kittleman's office said in its press release.
The county executive's first public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Dec. 17. His office will propose capital and operating budgets in early spring of next year.
Other priorities include sending a letter to the County Council with details about his plan to make the county's Office on Aging, which is under the umbrella of the Department of Citizen Service, into a separate Department of Aging; reviewing the mission of the mental health task force with a focus on proactive planning and treatment; and repealing Ulman's ban on the sale of sugary drinks and high-calorie snacks on county property.
He also said he would not be driven around by a Howard County police officer, a practice started by Ulman. County Republicans, including Allan Kittleman's stepmother, Trent Kittleman, who ran against Ulman in 2010, have derided the decision as a waste of county resources, while Ulman defended his choice to use a security detail, explaining that the move was based on a recommendation from the county police chief and was the norm for executives in neighboring counties.
Kittleman's office said he "appreciates the service of these sworn and highly trained public safety officers, and believes their time should be spent serving and protecting the public. If occasions should arise where he needs assistance in traveling to official functions, he will ask for the help of staff members or others rather than taking police officers off the street and away from their official functions."