Investment executive and former State Delegate Ken Holt is a Republican candidate for Baltimore County Executive. According to his website, "His years in the financial industry have given him the important background necessary to manage a large municipal government during a period of budget restraint and economic recession." I was interested in learning more about Mr. Holt so asked him if he was interested in an email based interview. His responses are as follows:
Matthew Newman: What made you decide to run for Baltimore County Executive?
Ken Holt: I decided to run for Baltimore County Executive because I feel that we need new objective leadership with a business and public service background to provide solutions to the looming budgetary and economic downturn.
MRN: If elected, what would be the primary focus of a Holt administration?
KH: Rebuilding the economic and job base, and balancing the budget.
MRN: What is your opinion on the outgoing Smith administration?
KH: The Smith administration has done a satisfactory job during a mostly prosperous period. However, the past two years of economic recession have resulted in a $150 million budget deficit. This threatens the county’s AAA bond rating, as well as government’s ability to sustain growth and maintain a high level of quality services.
MRN: Recently, Baltimore County statutes changed to allow for speed cameras to be installed, primarily near school zones. What are your thoughts on speed cameras?
KH: I do not support speed cameras. Now that they are installed in some school zones, I would recommend they be mobile in order to allow for relocation throughout the county school system.
MRN: How do you feel we should handle Baltimore County's expected $155 million or greater budget shortfall?
KH: A comprehensive review of Baltimore County government should be undertaken to review operations for efficiency. I would examine low return/high cost programs, adopt best business practices and streamline regulatory policy to cut permitting time and costs. I would balance government spending and develop incentives to attract new businesses to the county.
MRN: On your website you mention that Baltimore County needs a "...comprehensive review of all county operations for efficiency, customer service and best business practices." Can you provide of some specific ideas you have to help improve the efficiency of the County?
KH: Operating agencies which generate revenue to the county would be carefully examined and managed to improve bottom line results. Technological innovations, where applicable, would be adopted to further improve efficiencies. Permitting and regulatory agencies would adopt a facilitator – not a regulator – mindset. I want to jumpstart the economy by county employees achieving performance goals.
MRN: How do you feel your experiences in and out of government help qualify you to be County Executive?
KH: As a former State legislator and community activist, I understand how government can impact the quality of life of its citizenry. Poor government management decisions and weak controls have led California, New Jersey, Illinois and New York to the brink of crisis. In Maryland, unfunded mandates and the failure to properly implement slots have caused deficits to widen. Mismanagement at the State level naturally trickles down to the counties. My twenty-five years of experience in business combined with my public service background has well prepared me to assume the role of County Executive.
MRN: On your website under the "Issues" section - you specifically call out that you are looking for input from citizens of Baltimore County for your platform. How would you continue seeking open government and the thoughts of the people if elected?
KH: As Baltimore County Executive, I would continue to welcome input from county citizens through a website dedicated to a town hall format.
MRN: You already have a more dynamic web presence than many candidates. How do you feel "new media" will impact local elections in Maryland?
KH: The Internet and social networking sites provide the medium for young and old to communicate. A political campaign can use the Internet as a powerful tool to receive and disseminate information. Traditional print and broadcast methods are not as versatile and are far more expensive, and are no longer as effective in getting the message out.
MRN: What is one specific thing you want potential voters to know about your campaign?
KH: There is a difference between public service and politics. I step forward – not as a politician, but - as a public servant to offer concrete solutions learned from real life experiences.
If you are interested in learning more, check out Holt's website. I'll be honest, I have not seen many candidates for lower office which were put together so well. I wish him luck in his campaign and thank Holt for his honest answers of my questions.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant