Kamenetz to announce run for Baltimore County executive

Four-term county council Democrat to make official announcement Tuesday

April 19, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

After a yearlong listening tour through Baltimore County, Councilman Kevin Kamenetz says he is ready to talk.

As expected, the four-term Democrat confirmed Monday that he will seek his party's nomination for county executive. The lifelong county resident has chosen the Randallstown Community Center to launch his campaign this morning.

The venue will make Kamenetz, 52, the first candidate in recent history to announce outside Towson, the seat of county government. The Liberty Road corridor is also outside the 2nd Council District, which he has served for 16 years. But he said the location would send a message.

"A good county executive can't govern just from Towson," he said. "The executive must go out to the people, meet with them in their homes, schools, churches and parks, and listen to them and then act."

During the past year, the attorney has been a regular presence at community meetings, political events, social gatherings, shoreline cleanups and cooking contests.

"The more I talked to people, the more I saw their willingness to work together with government," he said. "I am determined to persevere and do the job they want."

Kamenetz said he grew up in a household where politics typically figured into dinnertime conversations. He first worked on a campaign while a student at Gilman School, and his interest in politics has never waned.

"I have always enjoyed history, and politics is the history of tomorrow," he said.

He has set up campaign headquarters on the third floor of a Towson office building, where several interns are helping to get his message out.

"I like what Kevin stands for in terms of ethics and government responsibility," said Ethan Hunt, a recent Goucher College graduate who just completed a volunteer year of service in AmeriCorps, as he prepared mailings to community organizations.

Neshera Anderson, a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, said her family in Randallstown has always spoken highly of Kamenetz's efforts on the council.

Kamenetz has earned the endorsement of council Chairman John Olszewski Sr. He also has raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions, several hundred thousand dollars more than Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, his likely opponent in a Democratic primary. Bartenfelder, who has not announced his plans, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Republican former Del. Kenneth C. Holt announced plans last week to seek the GOP nomination.

"I know the top issues are the economy, jobs and quality of life," Kamenetz said. "I have government and managerial experience and the creative drive that will serve the people."

With four council members leaving the seven-member panel, the next county executive will be working with a majority of newcomers.

"I already understand how government operates, and I can hit the ground running," Kamenetz said. "In these challenging economic times, there won't be time to learn and play catch-up."

County Executive James T. Smith Jr., limited to two terms, will leave office in December. He, proposed a 2011 budget last week that he said would cut spending by 4 percent but maintain services and avoid laying off any of the county's 8,000 employees.

"We have a good fiscal tradition in Baltimore County, and I will make decisions to continue that tradition," Kamenetz said. "I am motivated to make sure my children have the same opportunities that I have had. I will make the right decisions, not just to last for the next four years but to last a generation."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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