Every four years, the people of Baltimore County get to select their County Executive. Democrat Jim Smith is term limited, so the seat is open this year. On the Democratic side, you have County Council member Kevin Kamenetz. On the Republican side, we have former Delegate and local businessman Ken Holt. Based on a review of the race - I like our chances.
Kamenetz is a lawyer and County Council member who has served since 1995. He has supported adding video surveillance to our shopping centers, speed cameras, and his big claim to fame - is pension reform. The pension reform that he proposed would cap pensions for members of the County Council at 60% of their salaries. The catch? This pension reform did not apply to those currently sitting in office, including Councilman Kamenetz. So, incoming members of the County Council are bound by this (weak) stipulation whereby they cap out at a pension of $30,000 annually paid for by the taxpayers of Baltimore County. Kamenetz is not bound by such limits and should be receiving a larger pension than this upon his "retirement" from the County Council.
During the primary - Kamenetz spent quite a bit of time on television bashing his primary opponent and fellow County Council member Joe Bartenfelder. Bartenfelder was considered the more "conservative" Democratic option in the primary and, so far, has not endorsed Kamenetz. After seeing a barrage of the negative ads Kamenetz used misstating Bartenfelder's record, I can understand why.
First and foremost, let me say that Ken Holt has a great website. It's easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and filled with great information and tools for supporters. Local Republican candidates for office rarely have such a great web presence. Now that I've gotten that out of the way - let me tell you about Ken Holt.
Holt spent much of his career in the private sector. He spent 25 years as an investment executive, serving as a portfolio manager for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. He's also run / operated his family's cattle farm in Baltimore County. His wealth of experiences with large scale budgets make him a uniquely qualified candidate to help with the current issues facing Baltimore County. He also served a single term in the House of Delegates, from 1995-1999, serving on the Appropriations Committee and participating in the preparation of the annual budget. His leadership experiences are many - ranging from stints as President of the Baltimore County Police Foundation and Greater Kingsville Civic Association to membership on the Baltimore County Human Relations Commission. In 2003, Governor Ehrlich sought out Holt to assist as Treasurer of the Foundation for the Preservation of Government House, which took the steps necessary to renovate and refurbish the family quarters of the Government House.
Early in the campaign season, I interviewed Holt at Old Line Elephant. He told me that the primary focus of a Holt administration would be,"Rebuilding the economic and job base, and balancing the budget." If you want to learn more about his views on the issues, check out his issues section. Holt has videos of himself explaining the details of his ideas to help push Baltimore County forward - and I'm excited for him to get started.
The question remains as to whether or not Holt can hold his own against Kamenetz on the campaign trail. Kamenetz has good name recognition from his massive TV buy during the primary. I think Holt will be able to build that back up. Red Meat Conservative has a great summary of the first radio debate between the two candidates (audio here) - and his assessment is that Holt is fired up and ready to go. Holt holds his own against Kamenetz and points out the misrepresentations and bold face lies in Kamenetz's claims that he never raised property taxes.
Republicans across America are fired up - Baltimore County is no different. We want a solid candidate who can help fix the economic issues facing Baltimore County. We want a candidate who has realistic experience with vast budgets who can help with the expected $150 million budget shortfall. Ken Holt is that man and he can win. If you want to help his campaign, please consider a donation or volunteering.
This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting races in Baltimore County. All politics are local - let us not forget the important local races.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant