Trent Kittleman announces run for Howard County executive

Former Ehrlich Cabinet member to focus campaign on government spending

February 16, 2010|By Sarah Breitenbach | Howard County Times

A member of a well-known Howard County Republican family announced Monday she is running for county executive.

Trent Kittleman, widow of state Sen. Robert Kittleman and former head of the Maryland Transportation Authority in the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., indicated she will focus her campaign for the county's top elected position on government spending.

"What politicians have forgotten is that the money government spends comes from the labor of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people," she said. "So when government takes money to spend, it better have a darned good reason."

Kittleman, 64, announced her challenge to Democratic incumbent Kenneth Ulman at a Columbia sign store, where she was introduced by her stepson, state Sen. Allan Kittleman of Howard, and flanked by family and local GOP candidates.

She said she has no specific plans for cuts, but initiatives such as Healthy Howard - a public heath-care service introduced by Ulman - need to be examined.

"I don't think government is there to be looking for ways to spend money," she said.

Betty Evans, owner of the Sign-A-Rama store, said she is looking to Kittleman to make a change in health care policy and support small businesses, like hers, which has six employees.

The county is "going in the wrong direction," Evans said.

Former Del. Robert Flanagan, who served as transportation secretary under Ehrlich, said Kittleman, his deputy secretary at the time, was instrumental in improving transportation services for the state's disabled.

"It was a real fix. Seldom do you get a major government program that was in such bad shape that gets fixed," he said.

Kittleman, who had a campaign account balance of $8,038 last month, is planning a fundraiser Wednesday at a private home, featuring Ehrlich, who is considering running again for governor.

Flanagan, for his part, has expressed interest in running for the County Council in District 1, a seat held by council chairwoman Democrat Courtney Watson.

Kittleman also has worked as senior counsel for Marriott International and minority counsel for former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee. She now manages a business communications company.

The GOP last controlled the county in the mid-1990s, when Charles I. Ecker served as county executive and three of the five County Council members were also Republicans.

Ulman, who had $573,183 in campaign funds as of last month, said Monday he does not know when he will file for re-election. Asked about Kittleman's challenge, he said he is putting his time and energy into cleaning up from last week's snowstorms.

"My 100 percent, sole focus is [digging out] right now," he said.

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