As Deadline Looms, No Candidates Have Filed for Executive Race

The council is set to appoint the next executive on Feb. 21.

As of Wednesday, there have been no applications submitted for the open county executive position, and the deadline for application is Friday. But a handful of local politicians have their eyes on the seat.

The Anne Arundel County Council is set to select a successor for former county executive John R. Leopold later this month. Leopold resigned on Feb. 1, shortly after he was found guilty of two counts of misconduct in office. Since then, Leopold's Chief Administrative Officer John Hammond has been serving as executive.

Leopold's term was set to expire in 2014. The person appointed by the council later this month would only serve out the remainder of Leopold’s term, and an election in 2014 would choose the next executive.

Candidates must be 25 years old, have been a registered Republican for at least a year, and reside in the county for at least four years, according to the county’s charter.  

Former first lady of Maryland Kendel Ehrlich, whose husband Bob Ehrlich Jr. was governor from 2003-2007, has said she is interested in the position, and has no intention of running in the 2014 race, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Both Council Chairman Jerry Walker (R-7th District) and Councilman John Grasso (R-2nd District) have also expressed interest in being the next executive, but neither have formally tossed their names into the mix.

However, a section of the county's charter may prohibit council members from vying for the seat. Section 202(b) of the charter reads as follows:

“Other Offices. No person shall qualify or serve as a member of the County Council while holding any other office, position, or employment for compensation or profit of or under the County government, or any State or Federal government office, except for service with a reserve component of the United States Armed Forces. After qualifying as such, no member of the County Council, notwithstanding the fact that he may thereafter resign, shall during the whole period of time for which he was elected be eligible for appointment to any County office, position or employment carrying compensation.”

That language could mean that a council member cannot hold two positions in county government while being compensated. Council members are paid $36,001 for serving in their roles. However, the wording may also only apply to appointments, and not apply to elected positions.

That’s how Walker said he understood 202(b), but he was waiting for the opinion of County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson.  Patch has reached out to Hodgson for comment, but as of Wednesday he has not returned phone calls.

“I don’t see that the language applies here," Walker said. "There’s certainly nothing that says a council member can’t run for executive."

Grasso said the language had him reconsidering where he stood on the matter, but he may still apply before the Friday deadline.

Each prospective candidate is required to fill out a financial disclosure statement, and a lengthy questionnaire, both of which are available on the county government’s website. The 29-question survey gives candidates an opportunity to explain why they should serve in the position, and also covers some of the many nuances involved in governing a county.

The West County Republican Club is hosting a candidate forum for the executive position Thursday at 7 p.m. at the West County Library in Odenton. Senator Ed Reilly is set to moderate. The council will meet to interview candidates and vote on a resolution appointing a new executive at 7 p.m. Feb. 21. 

Glen Burnie Patch Editor Brian Hooks contributed to this article.

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