Kamenetz Steering toward Innovation from Seat of Power
Venetoulis won't be behind the wheel ... Gardina and Marks bury the hatchet ... Make up of the council is set ... Smith ad "wasn't an ugly ad, but was very effective."
Retaking the mantle of innovation: County Executive-elect Kevin Kamenetz said during a Thursday news conference regarding the transition to his administration that he hoped to be more like the county's neighbor to the west.
"When I was young, I remember very clearly that Baltimore County, at least in my opinion, was the ideas county—seen as a real innovator across the state. It was certainly home to that sense of innovation and creativity," Kamenetz said. "And I had a sense that over the years, with all compliments to our friends to the west in Howard County, that they've kind of assumed that role in several ways.
"I have to tell you that I'm eager to have our county, Baltimore County, play that role again," he said.
Kamenetz wasn't specific about the visionary programs he hoped to bring to the county but we can barely wait to see if Baltimore County will adopt "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors" — the Howard County program that helps remind residents to go inside when it rains.
Venetoulis won't be driving: During that same news conference, Kamenetz told reporters that he and his new transition adviser, former County Executive Ted Venetoulis, had a history that dates back 36 years.
Kamenetz, then 16, was a driver for Venetoulis during his successful 1974 county executive campaign.
"I thought I was hot stuff because I was in the seat of power or at least next to the seat of power," Kamenetz joked. He added: "But Ted, I—with much respect—I have to tell you I'm not going to take up your offer to return the favor and allow you to become my driver."
Enough to give a guy a complex: Kamenetz is forgoing a typical tranisition team in favor of having Venetoulis as his sole advisor. The incoming executive cited his previous 16 years of consecutive service as a councilman as the leading reason that a team was not needed to help him get a "handle on county government."
But reporters persisted, asking if anyone else would be assisting in the process.
"Is there some suggestion that I'm not enough?" quipped Venetoulis.
Burying the hatchet: Time seems to have mellowed the relationship between retiring five-term Democratic Councilman Vince Gardina and his successor, Republican Councilman-elect David Marks.
The two men have had their political differences over the years but in the last 12 months both men have struck a concilliatory tone.
In the hours following Gardina's retirement announcement last September, Marks complimented Gardina for several initiatives including regulations governing the build out of the Honeygo area of Perry Hall.
Thursday, Gardina told me that he had invited Marks to meet with him on Tuesday to go over some of the finer points of running a council office. He also had some complimentary words for Marks.
"(Marks) is an intelligent guy who is going to be a very capable councilman," Gardina said.
Fun fact to know and tell: Marks, as a Perry Hall High school student, was a volunteer on Gardina's first council campaign in 1990.
Councilmembers are set: We now know what the County Council will look like when five new members are sworn in with incumbent Democrats Ken Oliver and John Olszewski Sr.
First, as reported here yesterday, the council will not have any members who are also attorneys.
Second, there will be two women on the council for the first time in its 54-year history. Absentee ballot results for the Sixth Council District released Thursday appear to have clinched a victory for DemocratCathy Bevins, according to the Bevins campaign and county elections officials. Bevins joins Second Council District Councilwoman-elect Vicki Almond, a Democrat.
The council will also have two Republicans—Todd Huff and David Marks, who will represent the Third and Fifth Districts, respectively. The last time there were two Republican members on the council was in 2002—Bryan McIntire, who lost to Huff in the Republican primary in September, and Wayne Skinner, who lost his seat to Councilman Vince Gardina after redistricting in 2002.
The new council will be sworn in on Dec. 6.
Not "an ugly ad:" Richard Vatz, a professor of rhetoric at Towson University and political observer, tells The Gazette of Politics and Business that Republican former Gov. Robert Ehrlich'snarrow, 203-vote margin in Baltimore County over Gov. Martin O'Malley was due in part to having no infighting among other Democrats to draw in "disaffected Democrats."
He also credits, in part, a radio ad featuring County Executive Jim Smith for O'Malley's strong showing in the county. Ehrlich needed to win his home county by a landslide in order to have a chance against O'Malley.
"That ad must have run every day, a hundred times a day. Jim Smith was all I heard on (WBAL-AM 1090) for awhile," Vatz said, referring to the radio ad. "Jim Smith is a very well-liked politician. The ad wasn't an ugly ad, but it was very effective."
Congratulations: To Kim Hall, former journalist and current web editor at Loyola University Maryland, and her husband Justin on the birth of their first child—Kayla Renee Hall, 8 pounds 1 oz and 20.5 inches long, born 1:23 a.m. Nov. 4.
On The Air: I'll be co-hosting Jay Liner's "All Politics is Local" show with Liner and Al Forman of Investigativevoice.com Sunday night from 7-8 p.m. This week we'll break down Tuesday's election with Democratic state Sen. Jim Brochin.
Why do you think Ehrlich has lost support in Baltimore County in the past two elections? Tell us in the comments.