Howard County endorsements

Here are The Sun’s endorsements in select high profile races in Howard County:

County Executive

Incumbent Republican Allan Kittleman is unopposed in the primary, but two Democrats are vying to challenge him in the fall. Among them, County Councilman Calvin Ball is the clear choice. He has taken a thoughtful approach to contentious issues like tax increment financing for Columbia redevelopment, and his fight to prevent the repeal of Howard’s stormwater management fee looks prescient in the wake of the second devastating Ellicott City flood in two years. He is not an ideologue but a practical, deliberative leader. Making him the Democratic nominee will give Howard voters a tough choice in November.

County Council

Only one incumbent is running for re-election to the five-member Howard County Council, Democrat Jon Weinstein of the 1st District. Having at least a modicum of experience and continuity on the council would be reason enough to endorse him, but the management consultant has shown important leadership in the wake of the Ellicott City floods, working closely with the Republican executive and showing a willingness to consider difficult but necessary choices, including a development moratorium and the potential reconfiguration of the historic town. Republican Raj Kathuria is unopposed.

Democrat Opel Jones and Republican John Liao are unopposed in the race for Mr. Ball’s 2nd District seat.

Third District Councilwoman Jen Terrasa is running for the House of Delegates, and there’s not a bad choice among the four Democrats seeking to replace her: attorney Greg Jennings, nuclear engineer Hiruy Hadgu, real estate administrative services professional Steven F. Hunt and veteran grassroots organizer Christiana Rigby. Ms. Rigby gets our endorsement for her record of community involvement (she serves as vice-chair of the Kings Contrivance Village Board, among other things), her strong support for providing adequate affordable housing throughout the county, her desire to bring community-based drug treatment to Howard and her recognition of the threat of over-development to the quality of life. No Republicans are running for the seat.

District 4, where Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigatti is running for state Senate, has another competitive Democratic primary. The two strongest candidates are physician and former school board member Janet Siddiqui and attorney Deb Jung. We endorse Ms. Jung for her expertise in the non-profit sector, her political activism dating back to the Equal Rights Amendment ratification campaign, and her strong views on holding developers to account for adequate public facilities and her balanced ideas for improving traffic through a proper balance of roads, transit and bikeways. Only one Republican, entrepreneur and former educator Lisa Kim, is running in the 4th.

The 5th District, where Councilman Greg Fox is not seeking re-election, two capable candidates are seeking the GOP nomination: attorney Jim Walsh and real estate professional David Yungman. Mr. Fox has a great deal of experience in development issues, having served for a decade on the Howard County Board of Appeals, but we give our endorsement to Mr. Yungman, who has an equally strong commitment to protecting rural western Howard County but also important business and finance experience that the council could use. Democrat China Williams is unopposed.

General Assembly

There are a number of competitive races for the House of Delegates and state Senate in Howard County this year, a few of which merit particular attention.

In District 9, incumbent Republican Sen. Gail F. Bates is being challenged by Reid Novotny, a veteran and cybersecurity professional who argues that the district needs new leadership to challenge Maryland’s progressive tilt. Ms. Bates has been doing that for years. Her pro-business, fiscally conservative record is unimpeachable, and she has the ability to actually get things done in the Democrat-dominated General Assembly. She has our endorsement.

In District 9B, two Democrats are seeking the chance to challenge Republican Del. Robert Flanagan: publisher Dan Medinger and insurance broker and former county councilwoman Courtney Watson. Having to choose between Ms. Watson and Mr. Kittleman in the 2014 county executive’s race was one of the most painful decisions we’ve faced, and we’re delighted to see her on the ballot again. She’s smart, dedicated and deeply rooted in Howard County. The former chairwoman of the county Board of Education, she would have keen insight into the education reform legislation that will be the major issue for state lawmakers in the next term, and her experience in government operations and budgeting would be a real asset.

We made our endorsements in District 12 along with those from Baltimore County, but to recap, we support Del. Clarence Lam for the Democratic Senate nomination based on his health care expertise. Two incumbent delegates, Eric Ebersole and Terri Hill, also merit the Democratic nomination. For the third slot, we support former Ken Ulman chief of staff Jessica Feldmark.

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