Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Throughout the campaign for County Executive I saw Calvin Ball derided for being nothing more than a nice guy, while for Allan Kittleman being a nice guy was an actual selling point.

“It’s too bad the Dems think it’s okay to vote for Ball just because they think he’s a nice guy.”

“Oh, you have to vote for Kittleman. He’s such a nice guy!”

If my guy is nice, it’s a major qualification. If your guy is nice, well, he’s got nothing else to offer.


When the votes were tallied and the results known Allan Kittleman came to Kahler Hall with his family to concede and offer Calvin Ball his best wishes. It was a gracious gesture. It was the sort of thing that Mr. Kittleman’s supporters point to when they speak well of him.

As much as we in Howard County love to see a moment like this, we need to look beyond it to the real policy differences that were at play in this election. This was not a referendum on niceness. Nor was it meant to be. It was an opportunity to evaluate the goals and experiences of two candidates and choose the best direction for Howard County. Who do we want to be? Where do we want to go?

We have work to do in Howard County, and all the niceness in the world won’t get it done. We have uncomfortable truths to address and some soul searching ahead. And work, plenty of it. Work to be more inclusive, more transparent, more imaginative in our efforts to make Howard County a fairer and more just place for everyone.

A moment in front of supporters and cameras is lovely. And we have every right to treasure it if we wish. But the moments I am getting ready to savor are those that come after the photos and the parties: the ones where the work begins.

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