How Laura Neuman Was Selected For Anne Arundel County

| February 22, 2013
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Photo courtesy of Howard County Economic Development Authority

Laura Neuman was selected as Anne Arundel County’s next County Executive last night after three rounds of posturing and voting by the republican controlled council.  Initially, the selection was a shocker. Especially after the political shenanigans that preceded the meeting.

Del. Steve Schuh was presumed to be a frontrunner and is an all-but-announced candidate for the office in 2014. The issue was the County Council member, Derek Fink is his business partner and the Ethics Commission opined that it was a conflict of interest. Moments before the meeting, Schuh resigned his positions with the restaurant group effectively eliminating the conflict and allowing Fink to support his former business partner.

If the republicans (a majority) on the County Council could hold together, they could have selected whomever they felt would be the strongest candidate to lead the county for the next few years and also to retain the seat in the 2014 election.

The Process

The democrats on the council were interested in balancing an effective interim leader along with a county executive that could be beaten in the 2014 election. Schuh was seen as a strong candidate across the board and he received no democrat support throughout the process. During the process, the democrats split their votes to see if the republicans were united in their support of Schuh. They weren’t as Councilman John Grasso (an unabashed Leopold supporter) threw his support to acting County Executive John Hammond.

During the following rounds of voting, The democrats came together in support of what they perceived as the weakest candidate and offered the support to Laura Neuman.  With the fractured republicans, someone had to move and the obvious choice was County Council Chair Jerry Walker.  Walker had initially tossed his name into the hat for County Executive and likely will be seeking the office in 2014.  And as a viable candidate for the office (as opposed to John Grasso), it was in the best interest of Walker to throw support behind the candidate he might be able to defeat.

In the end, the selection was more about political positioning than it was about selecting the best candidate. Without a doubt, all of the candidates were capable of the job and any one of them could have done the job. The issue at hand for the republican led council was to select the  candidate that would best advance their agenda (Schuh) and when that failed, to select the one most easily defeated in a primary.  As for the democrats on the council, the issue was to select the weakest, yet capable candidate.

About Laura

There have been several pieces published on Laura Neuman and exactly who she is. Perhaps the most comprehensive one was in the Laurel Patch when she was named Director of the Economic Development Authority for Howard County. In a nutshell, Neuman is a high school and college drop out who was offered an opportunity to earn an MBA through Loyola College. Her career began in an entry level position with T. Rowe Price and ultimately she accepted an unpaid position as CEO of a fledgling tech start up that ultimately was sold for several hundred million dollars. With a large windfall, she established a foundation to offer support for rape victims–Neuman is a rape survivor herself.  She was  recruited by Ken Ulman, the Democrat Howard County Executive to head the EDA in April 2011 and has been in that position for 10 months.

Neuman is a republican and curiously the only political contribution on record is one to Ulman during his recent run. Ulman is also considered to be a leading candidate for Governor in 2014.  Could Neuman be tapped as a possible running mate for Ulman? Would she change parties?

Or in a more interesting twist, might she change parties and run as a democrat for Anne Arundel County Executive as an incumbent? A trojan horse?

Regardless, Neuman appears to be a capable manager and effective leader who has garnered the support of of many. The County is entering into a critical period of the year and she has much to learn in the coming weeks and we hope that the Council will work with her and not against her in her efforts to bring some semblance of respect back to the county.

For more information, please read the Capital’s Alison Bourg’s coverage.

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Category: COLUMNS, Editorial, OPINION

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.
  • Caroline Reed

    Who is Laura Neuman … the truth is no one knows and what we do know is troubling.

    1. She is not registered to vote under her name Laura Neuman
    (her real name is Laura Volkman).

    2. She is recently separated – but not divorced. Does she really live in Anne Arundel County?

    3. Does she meet the minimum standards to even be County
    Executive?

    4. She and her children were asked to leave Key School. Why? Her children now attend Gilman School (Baltimore City)

    5. She was the director of the Chesapeake Incubator which is
    under the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation during the Janet Owens administration (Democrat). Why did she leave this off of her application? You would think she would want to discuss her Anne Arundel connections?

    6. With no experience she becomes the CEO (for no pay) of a
    tech start up company in Anne Arundel County (Matrics Inc.). Company is bought a very short time later for hundreds of millions of dollars. Congratulations – but can you explain this?

    7. I am incredibly sensitive to her story about being raped. After being a cold case for many many years, she solves the case
    “for the police” in three days. This leaves a lot of unanswered questions. She brought this up – so at least she can do is
    fill in the blanks as to how she solved the case.

    8. She is a high school dropout and a college dropout …
    but she has an M.B.A. from Loyola … because she said “she talked them into it.” Again, so many unanswered questions here.

    9. If she is separated raising children at super expensive
    Gilman, why would she give up a job making $250,000 a year to take a job making $130,000 in a County that she has very little roots? Questions questions questions.

    10. How do we feel about having the Howard County Executive
    (Ken Ulman) making calls to our elected Council Members advocating for his choice?

    11. Is Laura Neuman’s loyalty to Ken Ulman, to the 4 council
    members or to the people of Anne Arundel County?

    I’m sure she was not born in Kenya (my attempt at humor), but
    how do we know. Jerry Walker and the three Democrats on the County Council did absolutely no due diligence. She could be anybody. How do we know.

    Since we did not get to vote for her, I hope others will add
    to or correct what we do know about her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1213158886 Douglas Arnold

    I see a lot of speculation and accusations about the motives behind the selection of Ms. Neuman, but no real “facts” on her selection.

    The biggest opposition to her candidacy is that she didn’t go through the channels of party politics but instead has brought real world business experience to the office with the promise to come in and clean up a mess. This position is for the balance of Mr. Leopold’s term. If Ms. Neuman decides to run for the office, she will have to articulate her case before the voters. We the voters will have the final say in 2014.

    From my perspective, our county politics are broken. From the top we have Mr. Leopold’s repulsive behavior and we have two delegates that should, by many accounts, resign due to questionable behavior.

    The jury is out on Ms. Neuman, but having an outsider come in and challenge the status quo is a good thing. Why make despariging speculation about her? The process was straightforward. She will sink or swim, succeed or fail based on her talents and skills. Unless there is more than speculation to think otherwise, lets give Ms. Neuman the opportunity to do her job. I personally think we will be pleasantly surprised.

  • Paul L Murphy

    Who is Laura Neuman … the truth is no one knows and what we do know is troubling.

    1. She is not registered to vote under her name Laura Neuman
    (her real name is Laura Volkman).
    ‘real’ and what, ‘fake’ names? I thought they were ‘maiden’ and ‘married’ name.

    2. She is recently separated – but not divorced. Does she really live in Anne Arundel County? ‘someone is separated? OMG, Marriage issues. WOW, shocking, just like 1/2 of us.

    3. Does she meet the minimum standards to even be County
    Executive? Yes.

    4. She and her children were asked to leave Key School. Why? Her children now attend Gilman School (Baltimore City) do not know.

    5. She was the director of the Chesapeake Incubator which is
    under the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation during the Janet Owens administration (Democrat). Why did she leave this off of her application? You would think she would want to discuss her Anne Arundel connections? CIC management was a revolving door…and notice Laura left because Janet Owens raised lease rates for the emerging companies. Laura was trying to help the emerging companies. Departing the CIC doesn’t surprise me.

    She was 18 and raped, that might knock you off the normal path, so she earned her MBA in a legit manner. Did Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Zuckerberg graduate?