Anne Arundel County executive candidates Steve Schuh and Steuart Pittman have seemed to shrug off any pre-Election Day jitters. Both men say they’re confident the votes will swing in their favor.
As part of an effort to rally up voters, Pittman and Schuh both boarded floats at Sunday’s Thanksgiving Parade in Pasadena. The Pasadena Business Association hosts the event every year.
Pittman said he wasn’t worried about campaigning in a part of the county that is likely to support the incumbent on Tuesday.
“There’s people who have been living here a long time and there are newcomers,” Pittman said. “People here have the same concerns about development that they have everywhere. This election’s turning out to be not so partisan.”
When asked about Pittman’s remarks, Schuh had one word: “fantasy.”
The Republican hugged supporters who came to march with his float — a white pickup truck decorated with “Steve Schuh for County Executive” banners. He handed out stickers and Frisbees during the parade.
Both candidates have championed initiatives like expanding the county’s police force and battling the opioid epidemic. But they split over the issues of development and land use.
Some of Pittman’s blue T-shirt-clad campaigners chanted “stop over-development” during the parade. Pittman has openly criticized the Schuh administration for supporting rapid development in Anne Arundel County.
Schuh said much of the land the county has purchased will be used to build 17 new schools and a collection of recreational parks.
“My opponent has opposed just about every piece of land we’ve purchased,” Schuh said. “It’s rather mind-boggling. I don’t know why anybody would oppose parks.”
One of those parks includes the controversial Turtle Run at Deep Cove project — a $2.6 million purchase of 140 acres of land in Churchton. Pittman says the county over-inflated the cost.
The Capital found the appraisal of the property was made using a development that could have never been legally approved by the county at the time it was purchased. Schuh was personally involved in conversations regarding the property with the developer, a Schuh campaign supporter.
And while Pittman has criticized Schuh for accepting more than $175,000 in campaign contributions from developers, the Democratic challenger has admitted to asking Gary Koch — one of the county’s biggest developers — for campaign cash.
The annual Thanksgiving Parade features floats and displays from local businesses and organizations — the Chesapeake Christian Center, a local dance team and a Girl Scouts troop, to name a few. This year, a handful of political floats joined the show as candidates made their final pitches to voters.
Pittman introduced himself to residents as he towed an autumn-themed float. On top, barrels of hay from his farm and a vintage American flag from his father’s office when he worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, Pittman said.
The Democrat has prided himself on being able to secure supporters from across the political spectrum.
Dawn Edgerton-Cameron, 49, said she’s an independent and plans to cast her vote for Pittman.
“I align with (Pittman’s) vision of preserving open space,” she said. “I’m standing up to the Republican juggernaut that is running over people. If the rest of the country needs me to be part of the blue wave, I’m fine with that.”
Others at the parade had voting plans of their own. John Rossbach, a 58-year-old police officer, said he’s voting for Schuh.
“I think he’s done a pretty decent job,” said Rossbach, who is preparing for retirement. “He keeps taxes down.”
Barbara Donahue, a Severna Park voter, said she agrees.
“He has lowered our taxes and caused our county to grow with good business practices and careful property development,” Donahue said. “I love the path he’s taking us.”
Parade-goers perched chairs on their tree lawns and watched the floats pass by. Children got a second chance at Halloween as they stuffed grocery bags full of candy that parade marchers threw off their floats.
Pittman, Schuh and others running for public office will have until Tuesday to sway voters. Find your local polling place on the Maryland State Board of Elections’ website.
The polls will be open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.