Tag Archives: Kevin Kamenetz

Remembering Kevin Kamenetz and Valerie Ervin’s Decision

I spend a lot of time (too much time) watching candidates and talking with them. Being from Montgomery County, I didn’t really know much about Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz before he entered the race.

Remembering Kevin Kamenetz

I had a chance to sit down and talk with him and watched him in debates and forums and he kinda grew on me. He wasn’t the best public speaker in the race but he had a long record of political involvement and experience that meant he could talk easily and in detail about many of the key issues facing Maryland.

Even more critically, he had grappled with many of them. As a result of this experience and representing a swing county, Kamenetz understood that people have a wide range of views and issues are often complicated but also how to make progress on them.

But until I read an article recapping his career in the Baltimore Sun, I didn’t know about Kevin Kamenetz’s work on affordable housing:

Housing was also a battleground in the changing county. Many fought against a program in the 1990s to allow poor city residents to move to the county. The NAACP and other groups filed a federal housing complaint against the county in 2011 alleging discriminatory policies.

It was resolved in 2016 with an agreement signed by Kamenetz that calls for the county to spend millions of dollars to support the construction of affordable housing in neighborhoods lacking it.

“I think it was his leadership that brought the administration to the plate,” [NAACP County Branch President] Fugett said. The settlement “may not be a popular decision,” Fugett said, but Kamenetz “always tried to do the right thing.”

Affordable housing is one of the most unbelievably difficult issues. Localities will go to the mat and beyond to fight the placement of low-income housing in their area. It’s a difficult issue and powerful efforts to force acceptance of affordable housing have usually failed in the face of strong opposition.

In short, there was no political hay to be made on this issue. Nevertheless, Kamenetz got it done, and he got it done in a very low key manner. One of the secrets of politics is that the best accomplishments are often the ones that go unnoticed precisely because they were done carefully in a way that minimized opposition and thus allowed progress to be made.

In an era that celebrates newness, often derides political experience and increasingly celebrates radical change, this sort of politics is underappreciated. Unlike sweeping promises that die on the rocks of reality, getting this done will make a meaningful difference in real people’s lives.

Valerie Ervin’s Decision

In the wake of Kevin Kamenetz’s untimely and sad passing, many of us learned for the first time that Maryland law allows the surviving running mate of a gubernatorial candidate to choose a new running mate and even to switch positions on the ballot. Consequently, Valerie Ervin can now run for governor or lieutenant governor and select a new running mate.

She has to make a decision quickly. Speculation has naturally ensued about what she will decide. While Donna Edwards, Ervin’s longtime friend, has encouraged her, I’ve heard other voices that are more critical of an Ervin bid.

I say it’s up to Valerie Ervin and we should respect her decision whatever it is. Kamanetz and Ervin made a good team and seemed to work well together from what I could see. Beyond that the law clearly gives Ervin the right to run, I see nothing wrong with her choosing to do so.

I imagine she would consult with the Kamenetz-Ervin team, especially with the Kamenetz family. Ervin has already indicated she plans to speak with Jill Kamenetz but I think everyone also understands that this suddenly widowed mother of two kids is coping with an enormous and shocking personal loss.

I don’t know what the law will say about access to the funds that Kamenetz raised for his campaign – they are not in a joint account. I also don’t know how it will impact the race if Ervin runs. The Washington Post quoted speculation that it might hurt Ben Jealous and Rich Madaleno, my preferred candidate. But honestly, who knows at this point in a very fluid election.

Regardless, I think it’s Ervin’s decision. We should respect it and move on with the campaign. Of course, she would rightly face the same scrutiny as any other candidate. And that’s how it should be in any healthy democratic competition. But, her decision to run shouldn’t be the issue.

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Kevin Kamenetz Died This Morning

Kevin Kamenetz Announces for Governor

In shocking and horrible news, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz died early this morning at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center after cardiac arrest.

Kamenetz was completing his second term as county executive as he launched his gubernatorial bid. Previously, the former prosecutor served four terms on the Baltimore County Council. As the county executive of a large, swing county with deep Baltimore roots, he was a top-tier candidate. Former Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin was his running mate.

Kamenetz is survived by his wife and two sons. My heart goes out to them and all members of the Kamenetz family.

You can read reports from the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

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The Future of Montgomery County’s Economy

Today, I am pleased to present a guest blog by Kevin Kamenetz.

Montgomery County’s role as an economic engine for Maryland is in danger. The recent Sage Consulting report indicates that the county’s private sector employment has declined, job growth has all but stopped, and a precipitous decline in the number of new businesses created in the county suggests that the worst may yet to come.

Despite these challenges, it is critical to acknowledge, as others have, that Montgomery County remains a strongly managed jurisdiction that has been able to maintain a triple-A bond rating from all three major rating agencies. And according to state and federal averages, the unemployment rate in Montgomery remains lower than both the state and federal data. These figures are important indicators of general economic health, but the warning signs presented by this new report cannot be ignored.

We must work together to build upon the county’s strong foundation, and reframe Maryland’s role in economic development, if we are serious about reversing such troubling trends.

Montgomery County has already accomplished so much with Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and communities with multi-model transportation options for its residents. As the Baltimore County Executive, I have long-admired Montgomery County’s progress here, and have attempted to emulate much of that success, attracting more than $5 billion in private investment and developing the Baltimore region’s first TODs. We also created Greenleigh, a Traditional Neighborhood Design project patterned after Kentlands. And my successful effort to lure $1 billion in private investment in downtown Towson caused one outlet to suggest I have “Bethesda envy.” In many ways I do.

What I have recognized, and what Montgomery County already knows, is the value of promoting projects like these will get residents out of their cars and into town centers for ease and convenience. This is how we will rebuild our older shopping centers and strip malls into the vibrant places where people want to work and live.

Much like Montgomery County, Baltimore County has also been able achieve the coveted “triple AAA” bond rating. In fact, we are two of only 46 counties across the country to do so.

Moreover, we have also dealt with many of the same issues that Montgomery County now faces. When confronted with an aging population, stagnant job growth, and the threat of private sector migration, we took a unique approach. We doubled-down on our own assets to attract new jobs, while focusing on employer needs to build a job-ready workforce.

Following the end of a century of steelmaking, I led the largest industrial redevelopment on the East Coast at Tradepoint Atlantic, which is now attracting “millennial-bait” companies such as Under Armour, Fed Ex and Amazon, as well as other port-related activity. Today, there are more people working at Sparrows Point than when the former Bethlehem Steel mill closed in 2012. These businesses are projected to add 17,000 new jobs when the global logistics hub is fully developed in the next five years.

Meanwhile, we opened a two-way dialogue with our existing employers and launched Job Connector, an innovative $2.5 million program that partners with companies, labor trades, schools and colleges to build a job-ready workforce. This employer-driven supply-and-demand strategy not only helps us keep our unemployment rate low, but it gives us a competitive advantage to retain key employers — and jobs they create — here in the state.

Together these approaches to economic development are transforming job prospects and economic opportunity for the entire region.

This progress has been bolstered by efforts to strengthen the foundation of any economy: a thriving educational system. Through Baltimore County’s unprecedented $1.3 billion program to build or rebuild 90 schools, as well as introduction of a Community College Promise program that will offer a debt-free education to qualified students, we are making the long-term investments to prepare a new generation for a 21st century workforce.

The kicker? We have accomplished all of this without ever once raising the property tax or income tax rates during my 8 years and Executive and 16 years as Councilman. In short, we’ve shown that we can be economically bold, while also being fiscally prudent.

Every one of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions — including Montgomery and Baltimore Counties, and especially the independent jurisdiction of Baltimore City, face new and evolving challenges. Montgomery County cannot and should not be expected to face these challenges alone.  That is why Valerie Ervin and I want to work together as your next Governor and Lt. Governor to build upon these successes for the entire state of Maryland.

Together we can ensure that Montgomery County remains one of our state’s key economic drivers for generations to come.

Kevin Kamenetz is the Baltimore County Executive and a Democratic candidate for governor.

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Gov Candidates Mix It Up on Amazon

I live tweeted @theseventhstate last night’s excellent Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club Forum held at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Candidates for the gubernatorial nomination agreed on many issues. One where they clashed was the merit of state incentives to woo Amazon.

Candidates Opposed to Amazon Incentives

Businessman Jim Shea called Amazon incentives “a really bad idea” and attacked giving $8.5 billion to the richest man in the world along with recruiting business from other state more generally. Moderator Robert McCartney interjected to laughter, “Careful, he’s my boss.”

Krish Vignarajah was also vehemently against the incentives, and attacked Gov. Larry Hogan for moving on this while letting Baltimore kids freeze during the winter, a comparison she also made at the Takoma Park debate. “This is the insanity of our governor.” As in many answers, Vignarajah combined passion on the issue with a sharp argument.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous also opposed Amazon incentives. Consistent with his approach on other issues, he staked out the most left-wing position. Jealous not only agreed with other candidates on the need for diversity provisions, he also wants to see labor agreements.

My take: One follow-up question left unasked of Shea, Vignarajah and Jealous is how one could require diversity, labor or other requirements without incentives. Alternatively, is the implicit choice just to let Amazon go elsewhere? If that is the case, would future Amazon employees be better off located in a place without these protections?

Candidates Supportive of Amazon Incentives

Pointing out that Discovery was about to leave two blocks away, Rich Madaleno called Amazon a “game changing investment.” At two-thirds the size of the state government, it would help diversify our economy away from dependence on the federal government. He explained that Amazon only gets $5.5 billion if they spend $140 billion in salaries in our area. Madaleno is proud the General Assembly passed legislation to make sure companies are held accountable on promised diversity and benefits.

County Executive Rushern Baker was candid that Prince George’s had tried to recruit Amazon, explaining that the idea was to build local businesses around it and gain revenue. At the same time, he criticized the Governor for ignoring building business except the FBI and Amazon. This point foreshadowed Alec Ross’ later contention that Larry Hogan would completely ignore the DC suburbs if reelected.

Alec Ross took a somewhat nuanced position. He said that he would’ve negotiated a different deal but hopes Amazon comes here. He cited his running mate’s business, well-regarded Denizens Brewery located nearby in Silver Spring, as an example of a great small business. Ross said we make it too hard for small business in Maryland, and need to think more about how to make Maryland the place businesses grow and prosper. His campaign tweeted an op-ed that Ross wrote on the topic that nicely gives a chance hear these ideas fleshed out.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he did not submit a bid for Baltimore County because he thought Baltimore City was the best location. Arguing that we need a nominee with a track record of experience, he wants to focus on job skill training to attract businesses and get people jobs.

My take: This is one issue that split the electeds who have had to directly grapple with this issue from first-time candidates (with Ross as somewhat of an exception). Montgomery’s economy sure could use a jump start and Amazon is an unusually big opportunity, so I tend to agree with trying to recruit Amazon. Though not perfect, Maryland’s process was also unusually transparent compared to other jurisdictions and got buy-in from the legislature.

Nevertheless, I understand why opponents don’t like it. Wooing business with money is often a mistake. In particular, football stadiums are a real money loser. I support Del. David Moon’s fine bill to prevent Maryland, Virginia and the District from competing this way.

Note: As I have mentioned repeatedly, I’m a supporter of Rich Madaleno. While it seemed worth mentioning here, I do my best to call them as I see them, and give an honest portrayal of the positions of all candidates here.

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Baltimore County Young Dems Respond

By Adam Pagnucco.

Henry Callegary, Secretary of the Baltimore County Young Democrats, sent us the following response on his organization’s email soliciting straw poll attendees for Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  The County Executive, who is running for Governor, offered to pay expenses for up to twelve county Young Dems who agreed to vote in the poll.

It’s true that the email was sent out by the Baltimore County Young Democrats. The Kamenetz campaign asked us to pass along information about the Western Maryland Democratic Summit to our membership, and we agreed to do so. BCYD supports opportunities for young people to get exposure to as many events as possible. It’s always been our policy to forward information from Democratic candidates to our general membership, and we invite any and all Democrats to provide us details about upcoming events. 

No response yet from Kamenetz.

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Is Kamenetz Trying to Rig the Western Maryland Straw Poll?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As we have previously written, the Western Maryland Democratic PAC is holding a summit event in Flintstone at the end of this month.  The event will include a straw poll held on Saturday the 29th.  And one prospective candidate is REALLY interested in making sure that event is well attended: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is running for Governor.

The following email was sent out by the Baltimore County Young Democrats (BCYD) soliciting attendance for the summit.

The contact in the email is Henry Callegary, Secretary of BCYD.  We asked for confirmation and comment from both the County Executive’s office and the three BCYD officers.  None of them responded before publication time, but if they do get back to us, we will print what they say.

We will be interested to see what the other campaigns make of this.  But in the meantime, if you are one of these straw voters, go ahead and rent the best wet-bar and Jacuzzi mega-suites Western Maryland has to offer!  It’s not like you’re paying for them, yeah?

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Franchot’s Staff Troll Ferguson on Facebook

Hogan and Franchot Get Ready for the Cameras

Governor Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot have been grandstanding in fine fashion lately. They are both outraged that Baltimore County and City are not installing air conditioning fast enough throughout the school system.

Hogan has more control over the budget than any other governor in the nation. He could have easily included the money for A/C in the budget without an iota of opposition but chose not to do so. Instead, he has set up a grandstanding moment with Franchot to deny the City and County monies needed for other school projects until they agree to install A/C in one year.

They kindly dumped the decision of what other projects the City and County should forego for the A/C on the Maryland School Construction Committee (IAC). Normally, this Committee reviews local projects to make sure they are ready to go and comply with other complex state requirements. Local governments determine which projects are needed in line with the Republican principle of local control – something that has gone out the window here.

Former Sen. and IAC Member Barbara Hoffman is shrewd and nobody’s patsy. She said correctly that this wasn’t the Committee’s job and moved to pass the job back to Hogan and Franchot on the Board of Public Works, who are eager to take credit for A/C but don’t want to explain why they are nixing taking care of problems like unsafe drinking water, fire safety and collapsing roofs. Even Hogan’s representatives on the Board voted for Hoffman’s motion.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has gone one better and agreed to speed up the A/C but on the condition that the State reimburse the County for its share. Will Hogan and Franchot put their money with their mouths and agree to Kamenetz’s plan? Or will they demand that the County install A/C but not fix other very serious problems important to student safety?

Franchot’s Facebooking Staff

Meanwhile, Franchot’s staff seems to have little else to do but harry Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) on Facebook for standing up for his jurisdiction’s priorities. Montgomery’s state legislative delegation doesn’t try to reorder our County’s priorities either.

Here is Len Foxwell, Franchot’s Chief of Staff, interrogating Sen. Ferguson during normal business hours:

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Apparently, Deputy Chief of Staff Emmanuel Welsh also has time to attack Ferguson on his Facebook page:

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I suppose Communications Director Peter Hamm is arguably doing his job by spending time on Facebook taking potshots at Sen. Ferguson:

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And here is more of Chief of Staff Foxwell:

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Communications Director Peter Hamm condescendingly calls Sen. Ferguson “pal” on Facebook. Proof, once again, that you may grow up but adolescence is forever.

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Press Secretary Alan Brody is also getting in on the fun:

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I never understand why politicians, let alone their staff, go after other politicians on Facebook pages besides their own. It rarely looks good.

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