Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Endorsement that Matters in the County Executive Elections

Wednesday I noted that on top of the interesting endorsement in the school board race there also was an interesting endorsement in the County Executive race. A bunch of prominent community activists (mainly Democrats and a couple independents) came out and endorsed the Republican Chris Merdon. I think this endorsement matters a lot more than all of the newspaper endorsements (and yeah I noticed Merdon won all the newspaper endorsements, but I doubt this will stop Republicans from trying to continue to claim there is a liberal media). I am wondering what you think of the endorsements by the community activists?

I found the list rather intriguing. Particularly what jumped out at me was that the following people were in the group endorsing Chris Merdon:

1) Martha Clark – Non-old time Democratic politicos may not realize this, but she is the daughter of former Senator Clark who in a previous generation was the leading figure in Howard County Democratic politics. Senator Clark served as the Majority Leader in the Maryland Senate and was a much revered figure in Howard County Democratic circles until his death in August of this year.

2) Barbara Russell – There are few people in local politics who get my attention when they talk more than Barbara Russell. She has a whip smart mind and a character of steel that leads her to always do what she thinks is right. She just retired from being a longtime County Council staffer where she worked with both Ken Ulman and Chris Merdon and she probably knows more about how each candidate would conduct county government than anyone else I know.

3) Cindy Coyle – Of the three contested Columbia Association elections last April Cindy won by the biggest margin. She is smart, passionate about good governance and wants the development of downtown Columbia to be done right.

4) Rebecca Johnson – Rebecca has probably been one of the most engaged followers of the downtown Columbia redevelopment process. I found her quote on this matter particularly interesting: “I vote for the best candidate, regardless of party. Thus, I have voted almost entirely Democratic for as long as I can remember. Once again this year, I am a strong supporter of the Democratic ticket, including statewide candidates O’Malley, Brown, and Cardin. But for Howard County Executive, I will be voting for Republican Chris Merdon. Chris combines experience and fiscal responsibility with a willingness to genuinely listen to citizens and to make decisions that are thoughtful and informed by all points of view. I especially appreciate Chris’s commitment to making sure that the critical Columbia Downtown development project proceeds with care, integrity, and respect for Columbia’s core values.” [Emphasis added by me.]

What do you think about the endorsement by these community activists? Knowing these people I am sure that this endorsing across party lines came after a great deal of sole searching. What I think is most imprtant about these endorsements is that each person on this list has a very extensive list of friends in the community and voters are always more likely to listen to the opinions of their friends, family, and neighbors than any ads or mailers.

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still wonder about Mr. Merdon's votes on both sides of the smoking in restaurants issue. If I remember correctly, he voted against a complete smoking ban in restaurants when there were votes to defeat it. Yet (again if I remember correctly), once Mr. Ball joined the council and the issue was revisited, Mr. Merdon voted for a complete ban on smoking in restaurants.

Did he initially vote against public health and workplace safety? Was his subsequent opposite vote due to a change of heart, or a vote more focused on the upcoming executive race than the public health issue being addressed?

Do similar executive decisions await us?

1:23 AM  
Anonymous David W. Keelan said...

Anon,
That is not entirely accurate.
He voted against it both times.

He reintroduced the bill when Ball joined the council for two reasons (in my mind).

1. Give him an opportunity to weigh in
2. He didn't want it to rage on as a political issue in the election cycle.

What he voted for was to give the bar/restraunt owners more time to adapt to a change. He submitted his own bill that would have implemented a smoking ban in 2 years - so he was for a ban - just not so quickly.

Why not so quickly? A few years ago these bars/restraunts were forced to install expensive exhaust equipment and set up seperate smoking sections. Many of these businesses hadn't recouped their costs.

If this is a workplace safety issue then the ban should applied across the board - not select businesses, bars, and restaurants. Why are some people's workplace safety more important to others?

On the other hand. If one is 21 years old and chooses to drink then they can choose to go into a bar that bans smoking. Same for employees.

In addition to smoking we need to ban radon, furnace emissions, and kitchen chemicals which pose a much greater workplace safety issue than second hand smoke.

Why isn't anyone supporting that issue?

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed a common thread among many of the endorsements that Merdon has recieved. It is the word "temperament". What has Ulman done in the past that would turn these people against him? Why is "temperament" coming up over and over again? Can anyone shed light on this?

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

evan,
i was surprised you werent at the press conference

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue comes from observation of Ken. You need to see it first hand to really understand it. Ken will just blurt out things.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

huh?

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Ulman has no character. He is a child of privilege who has been spoon-fed every career opportunity he has received. The fact that everyone has endorsed Merdon is just good sense. Merdon has more than twice the amount of County Council experience than Ulman

9:43 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

So tough to have a conversation with so many anonymous posters. I will renew my plea that people at least use a pseudonym so we can refer what each other said and know who we are responding to roughly enough to follow distict threads of conversation.

Now as to the anonymous poster who asked why I was not at the press conference: Why would you think I would be there? I actually didn't know a group of such people existed until I read about it on Keelan's blog, though I have privately heard many more activist Democrats than these say similar things to me, which is why I spent most of the last year privately trying to warn Ken that he had to address downtown redevelopment better and a couple other things. I was one of the ten most active volunteers on Ken's primary election four years ago and have been deeply concerned and we had a couple very frank conversations.

Anyway, why do you ask the question?

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For months you seem to not have supported Ken, therefore supporting Chris--it's Coke or Pepsi time.

I would have expected you to be there too. I guess you had to work.

It's unfortunate that you are willing to let your dissagreement on a couple issues jeopardize the entire future of this County.

8:03 AM  
Anonymous David W. Keelan said...

Evan,
I agree about anonymous posters. You probably heard about the problems between me and Mary Smith. As long as anonymous posters are not defamatory, etc. ok. But at least a noms de plum would be nice.

Anyway, I think the anonymous poster who asked why you were not at the press conference is a very thoughtful jerk.

Between you, me, and Hayduke I think you do the best job of telling it like it is. Not the way you would like it to be.

“It is nearly impossible to debate with an anonymous commenter. Only when knowing your debater is it possible to discuss the merits of somone’s claim. Civil discourse, common courtesy, and basic integrity demand no less.”

8:06 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Evan said...

David, thanks for the complement though I am not sure it is deserved.

This election year is probably the saddest I can recall. I have had a lot of soul searching. I try on this blog to stick to facts and let each reader decide their own opinion, though I must admit that sometimes facts take sides. Being "balanced" is dishonest when the facts themselves are not balanced.

As to the continuing anonymous poster saying I didn't support Ken and then must be supporting Chris. I haven't supported any candidate for a partisan race on this blog. I have supported two school board candidates and a CA Rep candidate. Of course I have also repeatedly admited to being a very active volunteer on Ken's primary election 4 years ago and I think I also reposted a letter to the editor supporting Calvin Ball that I wrote 4 years ago. Both things anyone who has been active in the community could easily find out. I also gave Ken $100 back in January. Those are facts as have been the other things I have written. Frankly, the only time I can think of that I have discussed Ken is when I analyzed the precinct level returns from the primary. That was a statement of fact and was not pro or anti-Ken only that some people had chosen to send him a signal and not vote for him and it was up to him to listen and respond or he would likely lose. Again the quote about listening by Rebecca Johnson comes to mind. The voters through the CA elections and the primary elections have been very clear and consistent alway picking the candidate most willing to challenge the developers and stand up for the community's interests. Any good politican who listens to what has been going on in this community can see this. I walked out of the charrette a year ago and knew it and as it happened I was walking out with Ken and told him that he could not get himself positioned as defending the plan and he needed to come out strong and say that he had listened to the community during the charrette process and would use his role on the zoning board to make sure that the plan that came out reflected what they said rather than what some consultant drew. I tried for months after that to privately continue to get him to say this because I saw as clear as day that if he didn't he would lose.

I think your perception about my statement of facts probably speaks louder about Ken's self created problems than anything. I am still very curious how you have come to your conclusions.

And again I plead with people to start to pick a pseudonym and use it. It will make dialog a lot easier.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say thank you Ethan for being independent. To the anon poster making snide remarks about you for calling it as you see it - how does he/she explain that Merdon got every endorsement of the major media? I guess the media isn't concerned about the future of Howard County? Ulman took a calculated risk running for CE at age 32 with no experience. It was huge risk that Merdon has captalizes on and rightly so. Does the future of HC belong in the hands of someone with so little experience....management, life, and otherwise?
- previously on the fence

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure that Merdon's 3 endorsements from media outlets that picked a majority GOP lead government on the State & local levels are more powerful then Ulman's numerous endorsements from several other groups i.e. teachers, fire fighters, police, African American Coalition, etc.

As the GOP blogs demonstrate [they listed months ago, even before the surveys, that they support all of the GOP candidates PERIOD], at some point in a race where one will win and others lose, when you work against one person, you work for the opposition.

Remember the King Quote “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” I am not sure it’s good enough to always sit on the sidelines.

I prefer the anonymity of this blog. We should be working through ideas and concerns, not coloring the message with the messenger.

Should it matter with the debate who says it?

I say, as long as we are not abusive or offensive, let us discuss issue and ideas in a forum that allows us freedom from who we are.

We have recently seen that even pseudonyms are not always respected.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason the media endorsements impressed me is that I view the editors of the Sun and the Post as objective on the matters in Howard County. They don't always endorse Dems or always endorse Reps. They choose who they feel is most credible.

The fact that ALL of them went to Merdon, tells me that the outside world looks at these two guys, their records, their experience, their platforms, and finds that Merdon is more qualified to serve as County Executive. Three out of three...I think that says volumes.

I also think the Council candidates that received the Sun and Times endorsements were the more credible candidates, regardless of party. Also, look at Mary Kay Sigaty as an example of which endorsements mean something. She got none of the unions and all of the newspapers. She beat Feldmark who had all the unions, Sierra Club, etc.

The Dems have to be second guessing their decision to put Ulman up for this race. There certainly were less risky candidates that could have beat Merdon easily, had they not had to deal with a primary with Ulman.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only reason Ulman is even in the running is his father. If his father weren't a Democratic party bigwig, Ulman would never have intimidated every other Democrat who actually would have earned the position.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification on the smoking ban votes.

I don't understand how voting to push the smoking ban out to two years made sense. Was that putting profits before workplace safety?

Maybe if the workplaces had provided protective equipment to the employees for use in the meantime, it could be rationalized as being ok to give the businesses more time to "recoup their costs"? Short of that, doesn't it seem like that cost was in some way being shifted onto future healthcare needs of employees?

As I recall, no businesses were forced to install anything. Those restaurants and bars that chose to continue allow smoking in a portion of their business did have to make improvements to protect the rest of the business from smoke.

Improved regulations for better indoor air quality should be examined. Delaying providing all restaurant workers the same indoor air quality protections as other business' employees didn't make sense to me.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous David W. Keelan said...

Yes, anonymity is a difficult issue. At one time a Howard County Blogger actually forced commenters to register with blogspot.com in order to comment on that blog. The blogger since has changed their mind. However, it is an illustration of how reasonable people can take very different tacks and have very different perspectives on such a topic.

I am of the opinion - if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Put your name next to what you have to say.

If you get vindictive and acidic then don't be surprised if the other readers make it a mission to find out who you are.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Angie Beltram said...

I will tell you what Mr. Ulman stated in the newspapere about our community during the CompLite "process" when he "rezoned" the property which took away our right to a public process afforded all other communities when churches want to expand (the Hearing Officer Process)."I don't know why they are so upset. It's not like we put strip joints along St. John's Lane." So... do you understand our position?

11:40 AM  
Anonymous David W. Keelan said...

Angie,

Wow, I can't believe that quote escaped my attention.

Was he that dismissive of your concerns? He really thought a 90,000 square foot complex on a 2 lane road wasn't a big deal?

David

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymity isn't really that difficult, is it?

The local blogger who temporarily required commenters to register on blogspot exercised something that was purely their perogative - their sandbox, their rules, and no one's anonymity was involuntarily surrendered in so doing.

Is that comparable to what happened on the other blog? It doesn't sound like it from the "can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" comment.

If the other blogger is of the opinion that anonymous posts are too difficult to respond to, it would seem fair that the other blogger either ignore anonymous posts or turn off anonymous posting. It doesn't seem fair that their blog invites anonymous posts and, when the comments are deemed too vitriolic, the anonymity is put in jeopardy.

At the very least, a disclaimer should be posted on that blog's first page if that is how that one works.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Beyond personality conflicts and the growth or development issue (both of which I expect inspired this latest ad hoc pro-Merdon endorsement by a few activists in the county), there are real differences that can be a rational basis for choice by voters in the County Executive race.
One of these differences, as has been pointed out, involves the county law prohibiting smoking in restaurants. Ken Ulman successfully pushed the bill and Chris Merdon defensively resisted it.
Ken Ulman has shown his willingness to raise revenue for our public schools and libraries. Chris Merdon has shown that he'd rather cut taxes.
Do we need a new public safety training center for police and firefighters in the county? Ulman says yes and Merdon no.
Even on the subject of growth and development (which seems to be the single issue for some people), Merdon has not voted the consistent slow-growth line and can anyone be sure how anyone's going to stand when the interests of developer supporters arise in the future? That's one reason why I pay no attention to this slow growth talk and more attention to the other issues.
Finally, beyond the endorsement of this ad hoc group and newspapers, there are interest groups like the teachers' union and environmentalists that may play a bigger role in this election.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous David W. Keelan said...

One of these differences, as has been pointed out, involves the county law prohibiting smoking in restaurants. Ken Ulman successfully pushed the bill and Chris Merdon defensively resisted it.

Merdon opposed the bill. That doesn't mean he opposed the ban. He submitted a smoking ban bill too. The major difference? Merdon's took longer to implement.

Ken Ulman has shown his willingness to raise revenue for our public schools and libraries. Chris Merdon has shown that he'd rather cut taxes.

Show us where and when Merdon ever proposed to cut or resist raising revenues for HCPS. Look at the Merdon / Kittleman plan from 2003 for the 2004 budget (you can find it on Ulman's web site www.therealchris.com). Merdon fully funded education.

Do we need a new public safety training center for police and firefighters in the county? Ulman says yes and Merdon no.

Do we need a new public safety training center? Maybe. Did we have to raise taxes by 30% to get one? No.

Beyond the endorsement of this ad hoc group and newspapers, there are interest groups like the teachers' union and environmentalists that may play a bigger role in this election.

Might be Ken. The Howard County Times takes a broader perspective than special interest groups. The D/I endorsements also represent a broader perspective as well.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

The social impact of effectively managed growth or the ills poorly planned debelopment are very broad and impact every other issue I care about including: schools,diversity, the enviroments, affordable housing, quality of life, safety, etc. Few things that government does has more impact than development/land use policy.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merdon's run of the media endorsements, when nationally there are substantially more NEGATIVE "Bush" ads than positive "Bush" ads, was quite surprising. I think it goes to the correct perception of the differences in temperament of Chris and Ken. Anyone that has observed both of them and/or been active in the campaign can understand the perception, that Chris ‘s temperament is much more suited to leading the County than the arrogance and bullying manner of Ken and family. I not quite sure how a young man of 32 years whose business experience is basically running a one person law firm has the audacity and arrogance to think that he can run a $1.2 billion enterprise.

If you were on the Board of Directors of that enterprise would Ken be on your ‘short list’ for CEO? Ken does have political skills (thanks in large part to the following) and a family network that is incredible adapt at raising money. However watching his quip/caustic remarks and votes over the years (he voted last on the roll call votes) on the Council, his heavy-handled “Boss Democrat” actions since announcing, I’m amazed at his level of support. Frankly the thought of an Ulman administration in a year that will see at least an 80% totally new and inexperienced council and the probable retirement of a number of senior County department heads, is enough to make me consider moving out of the County.

With respect to the recent “endorsement group” it is amazing the calls made by Ken’s father and others ‘affiliated” with Ken’s campaign complaining about the endorsements and the lengths undertaken to frankly, in my opinion, intimidate people/groups who had the temerity to endorse someone other than Ken. Look at the names, the relationships to the County’s longtime Democratic leaders (Clark/Cockran), etc. Very reminiscence of the “Democrats for Ecker” when traditional and long time Democratic leaders, who had the best interest of Howard County at heart, came out and endorsed Chuck Ecker over Susan Grey. It tells you something about the perception of what’s best for the County.

As for being anonymous - in my opinion if Ken wins there will be “payback”

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merdon's run of the media endorsements, when nationally there are substantially more NEGATIVE "Bush" ads than positive "Bush" ads, was quite surprising. I think it goes to the correct perception of the differences in temperament of Chris and Ken. Anyone that has observed both of them and/or been active in the campaign can understand the perception, that Chris ‘s temperament is much more suited to leading the County than the arrogance and bullying manner of Ken and family. I not quite sure how a young man of 32 years whose business experience is basically running a one person law firm has the audacity and arrogance to think that he can run a $1.2 billion enterprise.

If you were on the Board of Directors of that enterprise would Ken be on your ‘short list’ for CEO? Ken does have political skills (thanks in large part to the following) and a family network that is incredible adapt at raising money. However watching his quip/caustic remarks and votes over the years (he voted last on the roll call votes) on the Council, his heavy-handled “Boss Democrat” actions since announcing, I’m amazed at his level of support. Frankly the thought of an Ulman administration in a year that will see at least an 80% totally new and inexperienced council and the probable retirement of a number of senior County department heads, is enough to make me consider moving out of the County.

With respect to the recent “endorsement group” it is amazing the calls made by Ken’s father and others ‘affiliated” with Ken’s campaign complaining about the endorsements and the lengths undertaken to frankly, in my opinion, intimidate people/groups who had the temerity to endorse someone other than Ken. Look at the names, the relationships to the County’s longtime Democratic leaders (Clark/Cockran), etc. Very reminiscence of the “Democrats for Ecker” when traditional and long time Democratic leaders, who had the best interest of Howard County at heart, came out and endorsed Chuck Ecker over Susan Grey. It tells you something about the perception of what’s best for the County.

As for being anonymous - in my opinion if Ken wins there will be “payback”

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the media endorsements would have meant more if they had endorsed Guzzone in the primary and Robey, Ball & Terrasa in the general.

By Endorsing a GOP-lead government and not supporting Robey, it gives Ulman cover to be able to reasonably say that the media in the county has a problem with Dems.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I congratulate all Soon Christmas
Here some sites about the Christmases, a lot of interesting here
[url="http://newyear.cjb.net"]new year celebration[/url]
[url="http://here.is/christmasgift"]christmas gift[/url]
[url="http://santaclaus2007.get2.us"]santa claus email[/url]
[url="http://newyear.such.info"]new year[/url]
[url="http://christmascard.ko188.com"]christmas card[/url]
[url="http://christmasflower.ontheinter.net"]christmas flower[/url]
[url="http://christmas.cx.la"]christmas[/url]
[url="http://christmastree.dmdns.com"]christmas tree[/url]
[url="http://www.fancyurl.com/christmasornament"]christmas ornament[/url]
[url="http://christmassong.iceglow.com"]christmas song[/url]
[url="http://www.irotator.com/rotator.php?u=happynewyear"]happy new year[/url]
[url="http://chinesenewyear.isour.org"]chinese new year[/url]

6:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home