Howard County Times
Howard County

In new platform rollouts, Kittleman shares vision for seniors, Watson lays out plan for environment

Howard County executive candidates Allan Kittleman and Courtney Watson have released a new round of platforms, one on aging and the other on the environment.

Kittleman on aging


Late last week, Kittleman, a state senator and the Republican candidate for executive, rolled out his plan on aging, which acknowledges the impending senior population explosion as baby boomers get their AARP cards.

"With the realization that the senior population is about to boom, we must step up NOW to ensure that our community remains not only a great place to age well but is truly a great place to age BETTER," Kittleman writes.


Kittleman proposes to make the county's Office on Aging, which currently falls under the purview of the Department of Citizen Services -- an agency that also manages children's services and consumer affairs -- into its own cabinet-level department, on par with the Department of Planning and Zoning, Public Works and Recreation and Parks.

The platform also emphasizes keeping the county affordable for seniors. Among Kittleman's recommendations are expanding property tax credits for seniors; expanding eligbility for the Livable Homes Tax Credit, which reimburses approved modifications to make homes more accessible to seniors; and creating neighborhood home repair teams to link seniors to volunteers and contractors who can do important repair work at lower costs.

Kittleman also said he plans to expand the county's affordable senior housing stock by asking the Housing Commission to identify "under-performing private properties" that could be purchased by the county and developed into lower-priced senior communities.

The platform also recommends creating a "seniors route" on the county bus system that would stop at county health agencies and community centers frequented by seniors.

Kittleman's opponent, Watson, released her own plan for seniors in September.

Watson's environmental plan

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Watson, the Democrat running for county executive and a current county councilmember, released her environmental platform Monday, a plan that sets what the campaign said were "ambitious but realistic goals" to reduce waste, increase water and land protection and boosting energy efficiency, among other goals.

Watson said she would be "the strongest steward possible for Howard County's natural resources," citing her support while on the council of initiatives to expand recycling, establish a composting pilot program, create a county Office of Environmental Sustainability, allow for green tax credits and contribute to watershed restoration efforts through funds raised by the stormwater fee, popularly known as the "rain tax."


As county executive, Watson's goal would be to reduce the amount of waste transported from the county to landfills by 90 percent over the next 20 years, according to a press release accompanying her platform.

The platform outlines steps to achieve that goal: Watson suggests launching an "aggressive marketing campaign" to promote the benefits of recycling; accelerating composting programs in the county (currently, there are just two composting collection zones -- one in Elkridge and one in Clarksville); and expanding apartment recycling, among other initiatives.

Watson's plan also encourages renewable energy use, by proposing that the county re-establish tax credits for residential solar and geothermal systems and incentivizing construction of electric car charging stations on private property.

And she suggests retooling environmental policies as they relate to development: for example, her platform suggests increasing erosion and sediment control inspections during construction, discouraging "mass grading" of building lots and bolstering enforcement of environmental regulations.

Where the county's agricultural land is concerned, Watson's platform proposes encouraging farmland preservation and supporting local distribution of produce through farmers markets and a county-sponsored "food hub."