Ulman preparing to take over as executive

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

November 26, 2006|By Larry Carson

County Executive-elect Ken Ulman is consulting with area leaders and interviewing people for jobs as he prepares to take office Dec. 4.

Ulman's transition team also has scheduled a public hearing Dec. 6 in the County Council chambers in Ellicott City to hear suggestions or comments from county residents as it prepares a report for Ulman, said Guy Guzzone, the team's chairman.

Ulman said he is talking with more experienced leaders to get pointers. Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith came to the county for a meeting, and Ulman said he spoke to Smith's predecessor, U.S. Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who gave him some advice.

"Find the best people to do the jobs, and let them do their jobs," Ulman said Ruppersberger suggested.

Mark L. Wasserman, a former top aide to William Donald Schaefer when Schaefer was Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor and now senior vice president for external affairs at University of Maryland Health Systems, is another informal adviser.

The preparations for a new administration are moving along two tracks, Ulman said -- decisions about personnel and those on policy. Acting Police Chief William McMahon was on the interview list for Thanksgiving week, and Ulman must also consider a school board appointee to replace Mary Kay Sigaty, who won a County Council seat.

Ulman's transition team is operating from the fifth-floor conference room in the county's Gateway Building until he takes office. Helping out is Joshua Feldmark, an unsuccessful County Council candidate and husband of Ulman's special assistant, Jessica Feldmark, but there is no job guarantee for Joshua, the incoming executive said.

"He's certainly a friend, but no decisions have been made," Ulman said.

The incoming county executive has one piece of advice for Baltimore Mayor and Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley, if he is interested -- support a smoking ban in Baltimore. Ulman co-sponsored Howard's smoking-ban bill.

"I will certainly suggest that I believe it is a good policy and it's the right thing to do," he said.

New job

Herman Charity, a 30-year Howard County police veteran who followed his police chief, James N. Robey, into the county's political arena -- first as campaign manager and then for eight years as a top aide to the outgoing county executive -- is returning to his first love.

Charity, 57, is to become an investigator for county state's attorney Tim McCrone on Jan. 8. "We're really looking forward to having him over here," McCrone said. His office has one investigator now, but often "borrows" police detectives to help prepare cases for trial. "This will help considerably," McCrone said. The job is budgeted to pay $69,139.

As a county police officer who rose to lieutenant, Charity worked in a variety of functions, including patrol supervisor, watch commander, undercover narcotics, on the warrant squad and in internal affairs. That is how he got to know McCrone, who then represented the police union.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to investigating," Charity said.

GOP leadership

Like the majority-female County Council, Howard County Republicans have a majority-female central committee -- and now have chosen all-female leadership.

Party Vice Chairwoman Loretta H. Shields, a six-year county central committee member, is taking over the top spot. Heather Mitchell of Ellicott City, a new committee member, was chosen vice chairwoman in a vote Nov. 17. The nine-member committee has six female members.

Howard voters did not re-elect former party Chairman Brian Harlin and central committee member John D. Wafer in the September primary, but Harlin served as chairman through the election.

Shields, 53, of Dayton said she has no personal political ambitions but is excited about leading the county party.

"I feel good about it. I feel I can do a lot to help all the new people on the committee," she said, noting that six of the committee members are new.

"I like to be in a supporting role and helping other candidates grow and look forward," Shields said.

After the election setbacks for Republicans this year, Shields said, "I look at going back to grass roots. I am excited to do this."

Voters elected Democrat Ulman as county executive, gave Democrats four of the five County Council seats -- three of which are filled by women -- and elected Democrat and County Executive James N. Robey to the state Senate over Republican incumbent state Sen. Sandra B. Schrader.

Shields, a business controls program manager at IBM, has worked for the firm 36 years, she said, starting one week after graduating from high school at age 17.

She has had to adapt to change and prepare herself for it to have such a long career, she said, which is exactly what she believes the county GOP must do.

The party had "terrific candidates" this year, but she said she believes the election turned on national, not local, issues.

"You've got to flow with things as they change," she said.

Mitchell is the daughter of Trent Kittleman, executive director of the Maryland Transportation Authority. Trent Kittleman, widow of state Sen. Robert H. Kittleman, also was elected to the county GOP central committee.

State Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, who has known Mitchell, his stepsister, since he was in college and she was a little girl, said she is a veteran campaigner who will be a real asset to the party.

"She's been around politics all her life. She's capable, one of the smartest people I know, a very good speaker and very organized," he said.

Democrats are to meet early next month to formally choose their leadership for the next two years.

Party Chairman Michael MacPherson said he would like to keep the chairmanship.

"I don't think there will be any huge fight. I'm hoping to continue in this spot. It's my plan to have all the current officers continue to serve," he said.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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