I am looking forward to looking at the precinct level returns to see what we can learn about different candidate’s strengths in different parts of the county. At the macro level we can clearly see that Maryland, including Howard County, had a major Democratic wave that reflected the national Democratic wave that carried Democrats into control of both houses of Congress. The biggest sign of this wave is that David Osmundson came within 1217 votes of knocking off Warren Miller in the Delegate 9A race. Howard County has a Democratic County Executive and a 4 to 1 majority on the County Council, and a majority of both the Delegates and State Senate delegations. I am looking forward to seeing what they will accomplish with this power.
So moving forward, what do we know about Howard County voters:
1) They are clearly committed to quality public services and understand that such quality public services cost money.
2) Looking at State Senate District 13 it is very clear that the voters of eastern and southern Howard County believe in guaranteeing access to birth control and emergency contraceptives for all regardless of age. I look forward to State Senator Jim Robey taking the lead on this.
3) They selected a County Council, and thus the Zoning Board, who is controlled by those who have publicly raised real questions about the current plans for the redevelopment of downtown Columbia. The majority on the Zoning Board opposes the extension of Wincopin Street south through the Hug Statue Park. The majority of the Zoning Board has publicly stated that the current proposed percentages of affordable housing are insufficient. There are other examples, but the point is that the Department of Planning and Zoning needs to start changing their plan to reflect what the community wants if they want the Zoning Board to approve a plan.
While we are on the issue of changing the plan for downtown Columbia redevelopment, I have known Ken Ulman for years and I am sure he will take an active role in making sure the Department of Planning and Zoning (which as County Exec he now is in charge of) presents a plan that he is proud of. He is a very hands-on, engaged person. When he champions something he does it with immense passion, energy, and creativity. I take his press conference last Friday as a good sign that he is dissatisfied with the current plan and plans to push for changes to the plan to reflect what the community is saying. Ken has signed on to the paper that the Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown has put forward to advance the redevelopment of downtown Columbia in a way that reflects what the community has been saying and this is another good sign. The first decision Ken will face as County Executive that will impact the redevelopment of downtown Columbia is likely to be who he appoints to the current vacancy on the Zoning Board. This will tell us a lot about how Ken plans to proceed and will be examined closely