As a service to our readers, The Business Monthly asked Howard County candidates running in the 2022 General Election to provide responses to a short questionnaire. Their unedited responses follow. For candidates who did not respond, their campaign website identified on their candidacy application is listed instead.
Questions for Executive and Legislative offices:
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. What policies do you favor in addressing issues in the following areas?
Other priorities that you endorse
3. Assuming all legal avenues for dispute are exhausted, will you accept the outcome of this election?
4. Do you accept that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 Presidential election was legitimate?
HOWARD COUNTY EXECUTIVE
Allan H. Kittleman (R)
`1. My greatest honor has been serving the people of Howard County. I’ve served as an executive before so I know what it takes to lead. I’ve lived here my whole life. Howard County is my family, my community, my life.
These past few years, our community is more divided, more taxed, and more worried about our shared future. We must do better. I’ve established a record of strong and safe schools, accountability, affordability, and equity.
I will work to make schools stronger and safer. On my first day in office, I will reverse Calvin Ball’s policy of removing School Resource Officers and authorize them back in our middle schools.
I will work with HCPSS leadership to refocus redistricting back on keeping communities together and give students the support they need in their neighborhood schools. I will advocate for parents’ to have a greater voice and will fully fund Special Education.
I will tackle rising violent crime by redirecting HCPD officers and resources to focus on community-based practices aimed to foster stronger relationships with residents and businesses. I will order a review of countywide resources to address operational gaps, including crisis services and aviation support. Officers will receive the training, tools, and support they need to effectively do their jobs. We have tremendous officers and they need to know the county executive has their back.
When I took office in 2014, our transit system was unreliable and in disrepair. We replaced over half of the fleet and worked with the community to redo the route structure. Next, we need to harness the power of technology by adopting innovative ideas to immediately improve transit and overall traffic flow. We also need to think out-of-the-box and work to deliver concepts like Bus Rapid Transit to D.C. working with Montgomery County.
It’s vital we have a full spectrum of housing, including affordable housing with access to transportation, jobs, and resources. Beyond current approaches, we should explore developing Land Trusts to help families build intergenerational wealth. This should be evaluated comprehensively within a General Plan update. Unfortunately, due to re-election concerns, Dr. Ball postponed the General Plan update after spending $100,000’s on consultants. The update must review affordable housing in a more comprehensive and inclusive manner.
Other priorities that you endorse – We need to make Howard County a more affordable place to live and work. Inflation is hurting businesses and households, but Calvin Ball’s tax increases have compounded the damage. I am committed to providing much-needed tax relief that will give more than $70 million back to families and small businesses over my term, and I will remove overburdensome regulations. I will curb irresponsible development and get special interests out of the County Executive’s Office.
CALVIN BALL (D) (INCUMBENT)
HOWARD COUNTY COUNCIL
Sean J. McCurdy (R): Please see www.mccurdy4hoco.com for campaign details.
Liz Walsh (D) (Incumbent):
1. I am a Mt. Hebron Viking, Class of ‘89. By education, I am a civil engineer. By profession, I am an attorney. And now, for the past four years, I am a public servant. I am the current council member representing Howard County’s District 1.
2. Education – Building brick-and-mortar schools where we need them. Especially in District 1, all of this County’s population growth gets us no corresponding investment in our own neighborhood schools. We pay for those projects to go everywhere else but here. And bussing our kids miles away to get to them—to spend their last four years in Jessup, for example—is not a reasonable solution to years of terrible planning and policy-making at every level of local government.
Public Safety – Building our roadways better: making space for safe passage by those of us not in cars, and slowing the pace or altering the course of those of us who are.The most common public safety complaint my D1 office hears–all four years–is speeding or otherwise dangerous drivers, especially in older neighborhoods like Hanover Road or Main Street, Ellicott City and around our schools and school buses at pick-up and drop-off times.
Transportation – Stop spending finite federal, State and local funds on new and more highways and roads rather than building or bettering our public transportation—by new or converted bike and walking paths, expanding and electrifying our buses. We need to re-purpose proposed road-widening projects for safer, better bike lanes and walkways instead, like I have advocated for, and we’ll be seeing soon, on Rogers Avenue in Ellicott City.
Affordable Housing – Requiring it be built—in meaningful part—as new development keeps coming in. Instead, we continue to exempt largest-scale developments from providing or even paying their way out of affordable housing, like at “Westmount” on the site of former plantation Doughoregan Manor, off Route 144 in Ellicott City. Even where it is built in, we after-the-fact exempt compliance: our Department of Housing and Community Development recently excused “Morris Place,” off Route 1 in Elkridge.
Other priorities that you endorse – Preserving our green space and our historic streetscapes and buildings. They are irreplaceable; their loss, irreversible. Especially in D1, we boast beautiful state and local parks and trails, the Patapsco River running through and alongside them, nationally recognized historic districts in Ellicott City and even older Elkridge Landing and the one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants that grow and thrive only here.
Sheila P. Jennifer (R): Please see www.sheila4hoco.com for campaign details.
Opel Jones (D) (Incumbent):
Please see www.opeljones.com for campaign details.
William H. Campbell (R): Please see @CampbellforCountyCouncil on Facebook for campaign details.
Christiana Rigby (D) (Incumbent):
1. It’s been my honor to serve District 3 on the County Council over the last four years. My educational background is in environmental policy, and my professional background is in community organizing and the nonprofit sector. Over the last four years, I’ve developed a strong record of being an effective legislator and a champion for our neighborhoods by delivering funding for our community. I hope to continue this work in the next term!
Over the last four years, we have delivered $350 million in school construction funding, which has advanced projects like Hammond High, Talbott Springs Elementary, and the new High School 13. I have also worked with County Executive Ball to invest in additional educators, school counselors, and special educators in HCPSS. In the next term, I’m committed to continue investing in our school system to ensure that students and educators thrive.
I’ve worked hard to strengthen public safety during my time in office, and the data shows that crime has decreased over the last four years. Our work has included funding additional public safety personnel, increasing the number of firefighters, police officers, and mental health professionals that work in our community. I support taking a comprehensive look at public safety by ensuring that residents have the resources they need to live safe and supported lives.
Transportation has been a core focus of mine. I have advanced important pieces of legislation pertaining to transportation safety, including Complete Streets and Vision Zero legislation to reduce fatalities and injuries on our roads. I have also worked with County Executive Ball to fund Complete Streets projects in Columbia, Savage, Jessup, and North Laurel to promote safe walking and biking. In the future, I’ll be focused on continuing these investments and improving public transportation.
We have an affordable housing crisis in Howard County. So many of our neighbors continue to be severely burdened by the high cost of housing. I support several strategies to improve access to housing affordability in Howard County. These include increasing down payment assistance program, strengthening our inclusionary zoning laws, investing in the construction of accessible and affordable units, and allowing more affordable housing types to be built throughout the county.
Other priorities that you endorse
Over the last four years, I’ve worked collaboratively to make Howard County a leader in the fight against climate change by strengthening our forest conservation laws, growing our renewable energy supply, and initiating a new Climate Action Plan. Looking to the future, we need to take more proactive action to address climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, particularly in the transportation and building sectors.
Deb Jung (D) (Incumbent):
Please see https://votedebjung.com for campaign details
David Yungmann (R) (Incumbent):
Please see https://davidyungmann.com for campaign details.
Joan U. Pontius (D):
1. I have lived in Howard County 23 years, providing a firm basis for understanding the issues affecting the county. My educational background includes a Doctorate in Biology and certification as a Project Management Professional. My professional roles included data analyst, project manager, technical writer, programmer, and guest lecturer. Through my professional career, I have developed skills needed to consider multiple aspects of complicated issues, communicate, and work with a group toward a common goal.
2. Education – I support the county council’s role in approving the budget of the school system. The county council could help in reducing school overcrowding by adopting a more robust Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO). This would help slow residential development to allow school construction and other infrastructure to advance before new homes are built.
Public Safety – Including police, fire and rescue, and hospitals as considerations in APFO would help guarantee that these do not become overburdened by residential growth. With climate change, we need to address excessive stormwater runoff, and acknowledge the importance of natural buffers in reducing flooding. The pandemic has shown the importance of public access to healthcare. We must also monitor the integrity of our drinking water, whether from municipal sources, or well water.
Transportation – In order to avoid excessive traffic congestion in the future, new residential communities need to be walkable and near schools, recreation, and food. We also need to address the needs of our young and old; we need to address the shortage of school bus drivers and the need for better transportation of elderly to doctor’s appointments.
Affordable Housing – The new housing developments in Howard County are creating economically segregated communities, with homes that are inaccessible to most families in one section, and subsidized housing in another. Better would be for housing developments to include diverse housing options. These need to include “starter homes” such as were popular in the 50’s, in the price range of our teachers, police, and other essential workers.
Other priorities that you endorse – 1) Over the past 20 years, the taxes in Howard County have gone from the lowest in the state to the highest. We need to review where these revenues are going and verify that they are generating their intended measurable results. 2) We need to increase government transparency and trust in our elected officials. As a publicly financed candidate, I have taken no donations from developers, corporations, or PACs.
Questions for Judicial offices:
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. What are your priorities for this office, and how will you work to ensure that the county’s residents receive the best service possible from this office?
Rich Gibson (D) (Incumbent): Please see www.richgibson.net for campaign details.
CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
Wayne Robey (D) (Incumbent): Please see www.robeyforclerk.org for campaign details.
REGISTER OF WILLS
Byron Macfarlane (D) (Incumbent):
1. I’ve had the honor of serving as Register of Wills since 2010. In that time, I’ve taken an atrophied agency and turned it into a model for how government can be efficient, responsive, connected, and capable of renewal and reform. From day one and every day since, I’ve ensured that everyone we help is treated with dignity and respect, that we are solutions-oriented, and that we show that we care about what they’re going through.
2. When I first ran for this office, I promised to provide professional and compassionate service, advocate for reform to the probate process to make it faster, fairer, and less expensive for Maryland families, and be involved in the community. I believe I’ve fulfilled those promises and pledge to continue this service as I seek another term. These will be my top priorities:
First, providing outstanding service doesn’t happen by accident – it happens with effective leadership, vision, and a team of skilled professionals dedicated to helping people when they need it most. I’ll ensure we continue serving grieving families with skill, care, and respect.
Second, while I’ve successfully lobbied for many reforms, there’s more work to do. The most important and urgently needed reform in Howard County is passing ballot Question 5, which would replace our antiquated orphans’ court – which doesn’t require its judges be lawyers – with experienced judges of the Circuit Court. I urge everyone to vote FOR Question 5.
Third, I’ll continue to be engaged in the community. I’ll speak with community groups about wills and probate. By doing this, I’ll continue to give people the tools to protect themselves and their families and better understand the probate process.
JUDGE OF THE ORPHANS’ COURT
Christina J. Bostick (D): Please see www.christinabostick.com for campaign details.
Ajile F. Brown (D): No response, no campaign website listed.
Elizabeth Ann Fitch (D) (Incumbent):
1. I completed undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland before graduating from the University of Baltimore School of Law with honors. I am an attorney practicing for a nationally recognized litigation firm, and I am a current Judge of the Orphans’ Court for Howard County.
2. My top priority for our probate court is providing a fair, professional, and predictable process. To ensure that Howard County is recognized locally and nationally as a model of professionalism, I will continue my memberships with the National College of Probate Judges and the Maryland Association of Judges of the Orphans’ Court, in addition to the American, Maryland and Howard County Bar Associations.
To ensure the best possible service to our community, I endeavor to improve the court’s technology and to implement mediation and pro bono programs for parties who come before the Orphans’ Court for Howard County.
For more information, please visit https://elizabethannfitch.com.
Nicole Bormel Miller (D):
Please see www.facebook.com/nicolebormelmiller for campaign details.
John Francis McMahon (R):
1. My experience with Howard County law enforcement began when my neighbors made me aware of the lack of transparency. I ran for sheriff in 2014 because of the numerous complaints. I lost the election but the sheriff refused to take the oath of office.This fact was hidden from the public for over a year. when I was informed by whistleblowers I immediately verified the official records and filed in court at my expense.
2. The major priority for me is that the sheriff office starts doing its primary job which is to be an independent constitutional office. This is much more than the present mission statement that says it is merely the enforcement arm of the court. The constitution clearly defines the responsibility of this office to see that all county state and Federal laws are enforced. The sheriffs office has the duty to serve and protect the people and be a check on other government entities. Another priority is to remove undue influence that has plagued the Sheriffs office personal,union and worst of all political.The final two priorities would be transparency and citizens input. I am concerned that many people have legal issues and complaints that are being stone walled by other agencies. The sheriff should open his door to these people. Some of these people need referrals ,some need their complaints investigated and some need help getting into court. Finally all existing duties of the office will be maintained but reviewed.
Marcus Harris (D) (Incumbent): Please see www.marcusharrisforsheriff.com for campaign details.
Questions for Board of Education candidates:
1. How does your experience prepare you for this office?
2. What policies do you favor in addressing issues in the following areas?
Special Education Needs
Redistricting and Overcrowding
Bullying and Mental Health/Social Awareness
HOWARD COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
1. Decisions being made recently were not well thought out regarding consequences and unintended consequences. I am referring to the last redistricting and the extended delay to get the schools re-opened during COVID. Families and children were distraught in many ways to balance the loss of work, loss of socialization and loss of learning time for children. As a business leader, I know the importance of maintaining standards and resolving issues timely.
2. Achievement Gap – Reading is the foundation of learning. Our school system needs to be certain they are providing the best teaching methods for all students to succeed. In this regard, I am a proponent of Structural Literacy beginning with K-5. A commitment to evidence based structured literacy programs. Improving reading skills will enable the student to be successful with math, science, history, etc. This is a critical first step.
Special Education Needs – HCPSS special education system is severely lacking in personnel to properly support all the work that is needed and is required by law and expected by parents. This is an enormous problem at this time. Hiring of special education teachers is almost fulfilled. This does not give anyone reason to believe we can deliver all that is needed. There needs to be tremendous support to retain new hires and double effort to have enough para educators for support to have classroom time work proficiently.
Budgeting – The HCPSS budget though publicly glorified is not sufficient. The staffing shortages are significant and are creating dysfunction in many areas. The deferred maintenance figure is at an unbelievable number north of half a billion dollars. Overcrowded schools continue to be an issue that pits neighborhoods against each other. Inflation is not mentioned. The budgeting process will require difficult decisions for sure and greater transparency.
Redistricting and Overcrowding – I am an advocate for children remaining in their neighborhood, or closest school as a priority. I am not in favor of any plan such as the last redistricting that moved walkers and others past their school to schools farther away. I am opposed to busing special education students to other neighborhoods. I am in support of providing support and wrap around services for communities in need, including translators.
Bullying and Mental Health/Social Awareness – Bullying cannot be accepted under any circumstances. By students or school personnel. It is incumbent upon all to create a welcoming, safe and accepting environment. Strict adherence to Policy 1060 – Bullying, Cyber bullying, Harassment and Intimidation should be the norm. Mental health professionals have been added to help with the adjustment from COVID, etc. Social and emotional awareness topics are part of the curricula; however, I encourage parents to be very involved in discussions at home on matters of social awareness, generally good conduct and character.
Other priorities that you endorse – Know what is being taught in your child’s classes. Please get to know their teachers and administrators. Meet the SRO at your school. If there is no SRO at your school, advocate for this position. Children are in this system for 12+ years in most cases. Insist that your school is focused on core education and extra-curricular for your child to succeed beyond HCPSS.
Linfeng Chen: Please see www.chen4boe.org for campaign details.
1. I am an educator who is dyslexic with over 35 years of experience in education (elementary, middle, and high schools math teacher and tutor) with a unique set of skills and experiences to support excellence in education countywide. I earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland and a MAT in Secondary Mathematics Education from Johns Hopkins University. My goals: Ensure REAL education, access, and family engagement for all students.
2. Achievement Gap – First we must start earlier to interrupt the development of the achievement gap (engagement birth to 3yrs). Second, educating the entire community regarding ways to support brain development and engagement. Third, educate so that we all confront our biases that lead to inequities that fuel the development of the achievement gap. Fourth, understanding and accommodating learning styles to reach every child; Fifth, accountability to assure that every child can reach their potential.
Special Education Needs – Funding and competitive salaries are needed to address the special educator and para staffing shortage. Also, alternative pathways to create pipelines of special educators through programs like “Grow Your Own” and creating an apprenticeship program through HCC. Better preparation for general educators is needed to support students with special education requirements. Recognize the limits in the school system and work with families to get the services currently not available through the school system.
Budgeting – The budget must be examined to determine where to increase or move funding to meet critical needs. Building maintenance and competitive teacher salaries have not kept pace. Those two areas alone are real concerns that have been either ignored or neglected which can no longer be permitted. Examining the budget and determining how priorities have been established may help overcome the deficits to operate the excellent school system that the community expects and children deserve.
Redistricting and Overcrowding – County housing and infrastructure development have led to the challenges in providing optimal school districts that align with Policy 6010. Until the housing issues that contribute to school overcrowding are addressed, the school system is left to manage overcrowding through redistricting. Long lasting redistricting will require sacrifices across communities. Care and regard for the impact on students is key. Groundwork must be laid to help students and families make smooth transitions for the necessary adjustments.
Bullying and Mental Health/Social Awareness – Addressing the social-emotional needs of students can help them develop a sense of belonging. A caring community is what schools must be in order to address and reduce bullying and the stressors that can contribute to mental health challenges. Bullying and Mental Health/Social Awareness must be elevated so that all students and staff develop commitments to the wellbeing
Dan Newberger: Please see www.votenewberger.com for campaign details.