A Howard County councilman has entered the race to try to unseat County Executive Allan Kittleman.
Calvin Ball, a higher education professor currently serving his third and final term in the council, announced his run at a rally Thursday to a crowd chanting his name.
“Things are good here in Howard County, but I believe they can be even better,” he told a room of supporters. “We need to reach higher to make sure that all of our neighbors here feel included and wanted…that development and quality of life are brought into a better balance…that our focus is on our children’s success in every school.”
He made a subtle jab at his incumbent Republican opponent: “For the past year I’ve been surprised and dismayed by the silence of many of our leaders here in Howard County as President Donald Trump and his administration have sought to demean and divide us.”
Similarly to Gov. Larry Hogan, Kittleman didn’t publicly support Trump’s bid for president during campaign season, but he also hasn’t been outwardly critical of the president in his first 10 months in office.
Kittleman won his seat in 2014, edging out Democrat Courtney Watson with 51 percent of the vote. He’s impressed the blue-leaning county with his leadership, particularly with his revitalization push in the aftermath of Ellicott City’s historic flash flood that wrecked Main Street.
For what it’s worth, his own re-election committee conducted a poll that pegged his approval rating at 69 percent in February 2016, months before the flood happened. More recently, he was endorsed by the Howard County Firefighters Association.
In his announcement, Ball promised campaign season won’t get too heated.
“There will not be a barrage of personal attacks in this campaign. We’ve all had enough of that negativity,” he said, even sharing some kind words about his opponent: “Like most citizens of Howard County, I believe our current county executive is a good and decent man.”
Of course, the two have clashed this year. In one case, Ball co-sponsored a bill that have would have given sanctuary protections to undocumented immigrants in Howard County. The bill passed, but Kittleman vetoed it, saying it would hinder collaborations with federal law enforcement targeting gangs.
Current fundraising totals won’t be available until January, when annual campaign finance reports are filed.
The primary election for Howard County executive is set for June 26, 2018. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2018.
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