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In first year, Kittleman has proven himself worthy of executive's job [Commentary]

When we endorsed Allan Kittleman for county executive in October 2014, we hoped that, if elected, he would bring a "fresh approach to leadership in the county."

We hoped that Kittleman, a moderate Republican, would balance the political and policy scales in a county that long has been dominated by liberal Democrats and we pointed out that citizens could only benefit from something more resembling a two-party government and its natural competition of ideas.

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As he finishes his first year in office, Kittleman's leadership indeed has brought some balance to policymaking in the county, though in the process the executive occasionally ruffled the feathers of the Democratic political establishment.

We agreed with his overturning of a 2012 executive order issued by his predecessor, Ken Ulman, that had banned the sale of sugary drinks and high-calorie snacks in county buildings. Kittleman said Ulman's order had "clearly overstepped" an "appropriate role" for government.

With that move, the political scales in the county began to show signs of balancing out.

But Kittleman did not act then, nor has he acted since, merely to shove a partisan thorn into the side of members of the opposing party. Picking fights for the sake of it is not in his nature. Instead, he has acted out of a sense of principle – of faith that his decision was the right one for the majority of county citizens.

Throughout his political career, Kittleman has shown himself to possess an independent streak, sometimes bucking his own party, alongside a willingness to reach across the aisle and compromise with the opposition.

For example, as a state senator, Kittleman publicly endorsed marriage equality in Maryland before many Democrats, including then-Gov. Martin O'Malley, though it put him at odds with his fellow Republicans. In that case, too, he acted out of principle and not from a mere desire to provoke.

During his first year in office, Kittleman has proven himself willing to hear both sides of an issue and made himself available to his constituents through town hall meetings and regular appearances at public events.

The coming year will bring fresh challenges for Kittleman and the county government, including crafting a fiscal 2017 budget in the face of tepid predicted growth, and continuing to earn the trust of his constituents.

We have faith that he will meet these challenges with the same sense of fairness and openness he has shown in his first year, while continuing to balance the policy-making scales. We encourage him to keep the door to his office open while sticking to his principles.

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