In February of 2013, no one knew who Laura Neuman was. We questioned it as well. Here we are in 2014 and there are still many questions lingering out there. When did she morph from a solid and focused executive into a politician fluent in mudslinging? Does she have a future in elected office or government? Why did she throw her support (subtly) behind George Johnson when she campaigned as the “real republican”? In essence, who was Laura Neuman? To a large degree, we still do not know; and may never know. History is a great professor and I suspect that at some point we will know if it was a good, or a bad, choice to let her get away. But what we do know is that Laura Neuman led the County for 22 months with an eye towards excellence.
As we approach the end of her appointment, I think we can say that Laura Neuman was good for Anne Arundel County. She came in at a time where we needed significant change. She was not tied to the old administration. She was female. She was a manager. She had no elected experience. In essence, she was the breath of fresh air that we needed as the stench surrounding the Leopold scandals cleared the air. And she did clear the air.
She changed up her management team (as Steve Schuh is now doing), she did much to bring accountability to the various departments and brought some of the technologies into the 21st century. She was accessible and actionable which are desirable traits in an elected leader. But, she was not elected and would eventually need to convince a majority of voters (not a majority of County Council members) to vote for her. The primary was her first real test as a politician and while she had the support of many in the County, there were some gaffes along the way that ultimately cost her the Republican nomination. The campaign rhetoric was dirty from the start–and Schuh does not get a total pass on running a clean campaign either. But the critical flaw was that she overestimated her support from the core Republicans in the County who had been supporting Schuh for years. Remember, Schuh was up for appointment when Leopold resigned and he had been named the heir-apparent to Leopold for years. Undoubtedly if Maryland had open primaries where you could vote for any candidate, the results may have been vastly different. But they weren’t. There are no ties in elections.
Neuman made great strides for the county and like a Boy Scout, has left it in much better shape than when she came and for that, the County and the incoming County Executive should be thankful.
So, what’s next for Laura Neuman? Speculation is running rampant. She told me last spring that if she did not win the primary and general elections, she would never run for office again. I told her I doubted that. She insisted. Stay tuned. There are rumors of a Hogan cabinet position for Neuman (Secretary of Business and Economic Development?). We may need to wait until January to see if that pans out. But for the immediate future, Neuman has other plans!
It's official…I'm marrying my husband, Paul Volkman, again on November 15 at St. Anne's in Annapolis!
— Laura Neuman (@lauraneumanMD) September 23, 2014
Congratulations! And, Laura Neuman, as a resident of the County, I say thank you! You came in at a time when we needed change and you brought that. You helped to move Anne Arundel County forward and it is up to County Executive Schuh to continue that task. In 2012, we were the brunt of jokes nationwide. Today, we have shunned that image to a large degree because of your leadership. Thank you!