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Government & Politics

In Anne Arundel, Ex-Community Organizer Calls for Reinforcements

New Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D), who cut his teeth as a community organizer in Chicago and Des Moines, Iowa, urged his fellow county residents to organize and advocate for the changes they seek.

“If you want a voice in this government, you don’t get it by who you know or how much money is in your bank account,” Pittman said during his 15-minute inaugural address Monday at Maryland Hall in Annapolis. “You get it by building community.”

According to his prepared remarks and video from the ceremony, Pittman – who ousted incumbent Republican county executive Steve Schuh last month – offered an expansive and hopeful agenda, noting that when he declared his candidacy for county executive a year ago, no one thought he could win.

His priority list includes:

  • Forming a gun violence prevention commission
  • Ending the 287(g) partnership with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Opening discussion with the state to acquire the 447-acre Crownsville Hospital Center property
  • Hiring the county’s first environmental policy adviser
  • Supporting educators and first responders
  • Creating an open and transparent government
  • Increasing community engagement and data reporting

He also outlined six core issues he would focus on: safety, public health, economic development and opportunity, sound planning, education and the environment.

Pittman asserted that his “ambitious … not divisive” agenda would not succeed without maximum citizen involvement.

“When communities unite, we all move forward,” he said. “Reforms that seem simple from the outside become more complex on the inside of government. Progress will stall. That’s when you must act.”

Pittman, a horse farmer who is a political novice, though he has been civically active, noted Anne Arundel is rapidly changing and becoming more diverse, and said his agenda aims to address that.

“This is an agenda that can and will bring us together, with your help,” he said. “We have an opportunity, and an obligation, to show that trust in government can be restored. Trust in government and civil discourse can grow even in a county that mirrors America politically, racially and demographically. We will do this together, and we will do this with respect for one another.”

Pittman also paid tribute to Schuh, his vanquished rival, who is credited with modernizing county government and widening the county’s ambitions.

“Thank you to Steve Schuh, for your dedicated service to this county,” Pittman said. “Thank you also for setting the standard of professionalism and civility that guided our staffs through a smooth transition of government. The residents of this county owe you a debt of gratitude.”

Pittman also said he planned to tweak Schuh’s motto, that the county is “the best place to live, work or start a business in Maryland.”

“As I looked through our list of goals I wanted to add on to the slogan,” he said. “How about the best place to ride a bike? Or the best place to go to school? Or the best place to be a tree, or maybe a fish? But my TV ads said I was frugal, and I am. We must do more with less. Nine words less. As long as I remain your county executive, Anne Arundel County will be simply … The Best Place.”

Later in the day, the seven-member Anne Arundel County Council was sworn in. The new council has four Democrats and three Republicans, a change from the last term, when the GOP held a 4-3 edge.

The council members are Sarah Lacey (D) of District 1, Allison Pickard (D) of District 2, Nathan Volke (R) of District 3, Andrew Pruski (D) of District 4, Amanda Fiedler (R) of District 5, Lisa Brannigan Rodvien (D) of District 6 and Jessica Haire (R) of District 7.

Pittman described the council members as “a young, energetic highly qualified group of new public servants with a supermajority of women.”

The council has been all-male since 2010, when Cathleen M. Vitale – now an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge – was elected to the House of Delegates.

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In Anne Arundel, Ex-Community Organizer Calls for Reinforcements