County Exec Candidates Pitch to the Public

Five Republicans looking to be appointed as the next Anne Arundel county executive spoke in Odenton Thursday night. The county council will hold a meeting on Feb. 21 to vote on candidates.

Five Republicans seeking to be the next Anne Arundel county executive spoke before a packed house in Odenton Thursday, with the county council just days away from voting to appoint a successor to John Leopold. 

The candidates included a state delegate, a former first lady, a former Marine and businessman, a former state trooper, and a past head of the county’s Department of Recreation and Parks. They represented more than half of the nine candidates who have publicly stated an interest in the position, though potential candidates can apply until noon Friday. 

By law, all of the candidates are Republican and live in Anne Arundel County. Those that spoke Thursday included: 

Kendel Ehrlich—an attorney and former first lady of Maryland

Steve Schuh—A restaurant owner and state delegate from Pasadena, representing District 31

Patrick Jameson—A former state trooper who later helped lead a business unit of Oracle. He ran for county sheriff in 2010

Thomas Angelis—A former director of the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, currently an English teacher in Baltimore City; previously he was a police officer and also ran twice for county executive

James Wilhelm—A Naval Academy graduate and former Marine; now a businessman, he ran for Congress in 2010

The candidates spoke at the West County Area Library in an event hosted by the West County Republican Club. Sen. Ed Reilly (R-District 33) served as the moderator. 

It was revealed Thursday night that current Acting County Executive John Hammond will also seek the job. Councilman Dick Ladd (R-District 5) said Hammond called him just before the meeting to convey his interest. Hammond served as Leopold’s chief budget officer then administrative officer until Leopold resigned. 

Ladd reported that other possible candidates include businessman Rick Hoover, former house candidate Derick Young and physician Ron Elfenbein.

The county council will hold a meeting on Feb. 21 to vote on candidates. The winning candidate must receive at least four votes from the council. 

If members of the council were to find reasons to prefer one candidate over another, they would likely have to look at their background and experience rather than opinions on policy. On questions relating to education, taxation and other matters, the panelists offered little to separate themselves.

All said they supported keeping the county’s property tax cap in place. All but one—Angelis, the Baltimore City teacher—said they preferred to see an elected school board. All said they would probably allow any pending legislation to pass. And all sought to cast themselves as ethically strong in comparison to Leopold, who resigned in January after a judge found him guilty on two counts of misconduct. 

“I, like many of you, have been embarrassed by the headlines and sordid details of the activities that have been going on,” Ehrlich said. “I think it is not dispositive, but significant that we have a woman in this race. I think that the activities that were going on were embarrassing and put the female employees in a position that is really unspeakable as a boss. One aspect of this race is that I can bring instant unity and credibility back to the county.”

The candidates did differ in their answer to one key question: If they were appointed, would they seek to run again in 2014? Ehrlich, Angelis and Wilhelm said they would not seek to be elected by voters. Jameson and Schuh said they would. 

Ehrlich said that by choosing not to run in 2014, she would not be beholden to special interests, and could simply work to bring the county back to stable footing before handing it off to the next executive. Schuh said that by choosing to run, he’d be more accountable to voters.

Councilman Peter Smith (D-1st District) attended the forum and indicated that the council may prefer a candidate looking to run in 2014. However, he stressed that he was open-minded about each person and would seek to meet with them individually before voting. 

“I do think that someone who is running may have a little bit of a edge, because the county and the community has the ability to hold them accountable. But that won’t sway me from voting for someone who isn’t running in 2014, especially if they have good policies and perspectives they want to implement.”

Amy Leahy February 15, 2013 at 05:23 PM
This forum last night was an eye-opener for me. In listening to the candidates answer questions, I realized just how important it will be the new county executive to be able to work with the employees, the county council, and the citizens to restore some integrity in the office as well as know the issues before him. Or her. Anyone who does not have experience already in governmental relations and who does not have the ability to work well with different personalities is not going to be able to hit the ground running… I agree that having someone in office who would be interested in continuing - running - is a plus. That leaves two people out right off the bat….Ehrlich and Angelis. Additionally the fact that Angelis would not support an elected school board is a negative. Many of us know how important it is for the school board members to also be held accountable and the only way to ensure that is if they are elected. My feeling is that Steve Schuh would make an excellent county executive. He's interested in running in 2016, he's currently in the House of Delegates, he would not exceed the tax cap, already has legislation in the works for a hybrid school board, and would be able to work with the county council effectively.
Jeff Andrade February 15, 2013 at 06:24 PM
I am also very impressed with Steve Schuh. Dartmouth College undergrad, Harvard MBA, Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins, strong finance experience working at Credit Suisse/First Boston and Alex Brown, active in community and philanthropic work, and a good record in his 6 years in the Maryland General Assembly. What's there not to like? He looks like a solid guy with good judgment who can keep the County on a solid fiscal foundation, understand what's needed to promote business growth and has demonstrated his commitment to protecting the environment.and promoting better education.
Steve February 15, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Having heard Mrs. Ehrlich on the radio previously I don't see how she could work for all county residents equally and still hold true to her previous opinions. I also don't like that she seems to be playing the gender card, implying that only a woman leader could restore confidence in our county government after Mr. Leopolds' boorish behavior. This seems to speak down to not only female government employees but to the fully qualified men seeking this office.
JMoynihan February 16, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Tim, since you were there, can you tell us which candidate seemed to resonate most with those in attendance? Was there a majority supporting one candidate or the other?
Roberta Salamon February 17, 2013 at 03:47 PM
I ws under the impression that the Ehrlich's resided in Baltimore county. Arbutus. Where in Anne Arundel County do they live?


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