I have some good news and some bad news. Let’s get the bad news over with.
It’s 2022 and I still hate this photo. Well, photos.
The photos were taken on election night four years ago:
Incumbent Allan Kittleman, left, congratulates Calvin Ball on his victory for Howard County executive at Kahler Hall in Columbia during Election Day in Howard County on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group
Many people lauded Kittleman’s gesture as seen in the photo. He went directly to where Ball and his supporters were awaiting the election results to publicly concede and to give him, more or less, a hug. I say “more or less” because we all know this was not a genuine hug, but a public, for the cameras hug. In real life it is unlikely that these two would ever hug. And I say that knowing that County Executive Ball is a confirmed hugger.
Such things happen in politics all the time. I don’t have to like them. I’m not ascribing any ill intent here but I just don’t see it as the example of true goodness that many have suggested. It’s gratifying that Kittleman believed in accepting the results of the election. His party is becoming ever more sketchy on that. One wonders how he’ll stand on that issue this time around.
I found it interesting that the caption under the second photo, the one where Kittleman is (gripping? embracing?) County Executive Ball, strongly influenced how I perceived that photo.
“Ball and Kittleman Battle it out again for County Executive”, Sherry Greenfield, Carroll County Times
Suddenly that photo op took a more sinister turn. The physical contact looks more aggressive in nature. The crowd could be looking on with an uneasy anticipation. Is this a gentlemanly gesture or physical intimidation? Will this be a reception or a rumble?
It’s fascinating how the juxtaposition of a photograph and some carefully chosen words can have that kind of effect.
Anyway, I loathe that photo. You don’t have to, and I won’t think anything less of you if you find it refreshing or heartwarming. It’s one photograph in a deluge of campaign coverage and you are entitled to think what you like.
The good news is pretty clear: The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board has endorsed Calvin Ball in the race for County Executive.
“Election 2022: Howard County executive and school board races | BALTIMORE SUN EDITORIAL BOARD ENDORSEMENTS” By Baltimore Sun Editorial Board, Baltimore Sun, Oct 19, 2022
…But any objective review of the last four years must note that Ball has made progress on flood protection and on school construction, that he demonstrated bold leadership in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, that he has pushed the county toward better environmental practices — from using solar energy to strengthening forest conservation efforts — and that he was willing to take the politically unpopular step of increasing the county’s fire and rescue tax to finance much-needed new stations and increase the number of firefighters and rescue personnel. Ball has set the county on a healthy path that should continue.
Way back in June of 2021, when Ball declared his candidacy for re-election, I wrote:
The continuity provided by Dr. Ball remaining in office will be good for the county as we emerge from the pandemic. Frankly I was thrilled to learn that he was not considering a run for Governor at this time because I think he is needed here. The job of County Executive is not an easy one and this particular term has been grueling. Despite all that I believe that Ball has given it his best and is poised to move forward in a new term on issues of concern to all residents, not merely a privileged few. (“The Hat, the Ring, and Me”, Village Green/Town²)
I had to laugh when reread this piece and saw what I had written about Ball’s potential opponent:
I do not know if Mr. Kittleman is interested in running again. It would be interesting to see how the local Republican Party could shape a campaign which would basically be “I am a white man who will not make you uncomfortable.”
Not too far off the mark, if I do say so myself. I’d say more, but this is the part of the post about good news.
This election season may or may not end in a picture perfect hug, and, that’s okay. But I certainly hope the results affirm conclusively that leadership for all in our county is what voters believe in and choose at the ballot box.