Former Anne Arundel County Council member John Grasso files to run for county executive

Property manager John Grasso is not new to local government. The Margate Republican spent two back-to-back terms on the Anne Arundel County Council from 2010 to 2018, then filed to run for county executive before quitting the race to run for state Senate. He lost to Democrat Pam Beidle.

Now Grasso is again filing to run for the Republican nomination for county executive.


Grasso joins a crowded GOP primary field including engineer Fernando Berra, County Council member Jessica Haire, corporate recruiter Chris Jahn and former state Del. Herb McMillan. Incumbent Democrat Steuart Pittman is seeking a second term. The primary election is June 28.

A lifelong Anne Arundel resident, Grasso said he’s running for county executive because he fundamentally disagrees with the way the county is being run. He said he’s opposed to the rapid pace of development in the county, property taxes hikes, and the rate at which school populations are growing.


If elected, Grasso said he’d work on stricter zoning laws — blocking developers from buying properties and then rezoning them for higher-density projects.

Grasso said he feels local government needs to stop a potential influx of new residents to maintain the quality of life for existing residents.

“You’re talking about traffic. You’re talking about going to the grocery stores and dealing with lines — everything a human being touches. You’re talking about parks. Everything, it affects everything,” Grasso said.

Grasso also said he is especially concerned for retirees struggling to afford rising property tax rates. He said he plans to propose legislation freezing property taxes for senior citizens bringing home $55,000 or less in yearly income.

“Purpose: To make sure our seniors don’t become homeless, and make sure our seniors get to stay in the homes that they’ve been in and aren’t forced out because of property tax increases,” Grasso said.

When it comes to school capacity issues, Grasso said he plans to work on ensuring the schools being built now are designed to be less crowded.

“Why do we need to max our classrooms out? We need to get them smaller — less stress on the teachers and better education for the kids,” Grasso said.

During his second term on the council, he sponsored a bill limiting capacity at school development projects to 95%. He said, if elected, he’d build on that work and aim to get it down to 90% or 85%, meaning a school designed to house 1,000 kids could only house 900 or 850.


Grasso’s political career has included controversial actions and social media posts.

In 2012, the then-councilman was accused of berating a voter and calling him an idiot while his kids stood nearby at a Glen Burnie early voting location. Election officials said it was one of several complaints they received about Grasso that day. Grasso later apologized about the incident at a council meeting, though he said he was defending himself against the constituent, who started the dispute with a mean comment.

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During the 2018 campaign for state Senate, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for Grasso to resign from his position on the County Council after he shared a series of posts about Muslims on his Facebook page including a post reading: “One nation under God, not Allah,” and statements saying Muslims should not be allowed in the United States.

He later apologized to the president of the Anne Arundel County Muslim Council, put out an apology statement on his campaign website, and deleted the posts.

Outside of politics, Grasso has juggled five different careers. He’s been a chef, founded a meat wholesaler, invested in rental properties, run a lead inspection service and served as an ice carver for events, including Wheel of Fortune star Pat Sajak’s wedding.

Grasso said he’s in politics solely to help residents. In fact, he said he donated part of his County Council salary to local projects and residents in need.


He donated more than $5,000 to local organizations like Cheryl’s Rescue Ranch in Odenton, the Community Action Agency of Anne Arundel County and the Anne Arundel County Library in his first term and another $5,000 to a fountain project aimed at cleaning up county waterways with special aeration technology.

If elected county executive, he said he plans to donate the majority of his salary to similar causes.

“I feel that an elected position is supposed to be a position of service, not a position of gain.” he said.