Talking County Politics
As we start the new year it seems that it’s déjà vu all over again as we continue to debate the mask mandate. County Executive Pittman issued an Emergency Executive Order temporarily requiring masks to be worn for seven days. This was put in place due to the surge of COVID cases and would last Friday, January 7th. In an effort to continue the mask mandate County Council held an emergency session to consider extending the mandate till January 31st. To do this, a super majority of five out of seven votes would be required. The vote, four in favor and three against, went along party lines which underscores the deeper political division that has developed on County Council between the Republicans and Democrats. At this time, the Democrats have a four to three advantage.
Things got even more interesting when Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the County Health Officer (or Dr. K.), created a new public safety order requiring masks both inside and outside where social distancing is not possible. His public safety order, overrode the County Council’s vote, which maybe the first time this has ever happened. This is likely to prompt another debate; questioning whether the mask mandate is a government overreach versus taking steps to prevent a public health crisis. Did I mention that its an election year for County Council and the County Executive?
It will be a busy election year for the County as there are already several contested County Council races and of course there will an election for County Executive where Steuart Pittman is seeking a second term. Josh Kurtz from Maryland Matters, did a nice job summarizing the race for County Executive in history, “A Baker’s Dozen Political Races to Watch in 2022”.
“Plenty of smart people in both political parties consider Steuart Pittman (D) an accidental county executive and an underdog in 2022. But he has thrived so far on being underestimated, and this will be a test of his political durability and savvy, along with a gut check for how much the county has actually changed from light red to purplish blue.
Before Republicans can take their whacks at Pittman, who has governed unapologetically as a progressive and an environmentalist, they must first sort through their own primary, with Councilmember Jessica Haire, the wife of Maryland GOP Chair Dirk Haire, as the establishment favorite. Former state Del. Herbert R. McMillan is running as a political outsider and provocateur, and other reasonably well-known Republicans are still flirting with the race to one degree or another. Some analysts believe Pittman will be the underdog no matter who the Republicans nominate” – Josh Kurtz / MarylandMatters.org / January 3, 2022
A third Republican, Chris Jahn, has also filed to run in the primary which will be held June 28th. The Chamber is working on hosting a debate for the GOP candidates sometime in March and a General Election debate sometime in the fall. So be prepared for lots of campaign material coming your way and many news stories about key issues and hopefully not too many personal attacks.