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County Executive debate: undecideds likely still undecided

| October 19, 2018
Rams Head

Last night, The Capital presented a debate at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts between the two men hoping to earn your vote for County Executive on November 6th.

Editor Rick Hutzell moderated the evening and if nothing else, the 90 minute event highlighted the differences between the two candidates.

Predictably, incumbent County Executive Steve Schuh highlighted his fiscal responsibility in running the county for the past four years, and Steuart Pittman highlighted what was wrong with it.  The Capital has a few decent recaps here and here, but to summarize, here is my takeaway–in alphabetical order!

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Development:  Pittman says Schuh had been beholden to developers and has made some poor decisions regarding preservation. He cited Turtle Run as an example. He also said that under Schuh’s watch, development has been out of control. Schuh countered that the Turtle Run project was indeed a good purchase and appropriate use of funds. He explained a lesser known detail of the project that involved a bit of a land swap with the former owner. In terms of development–Two Rivers and The Enclave, Schuh explained that many of the developments we see today are the result of zoning changes made decades ago leaving the current Council and County Executive with little to no power to change it.

Schools:  Pittman had the room stacked with teachers whose endorsement he has received. Pittman vowed to have the promised step increases paid within a year in order to make Anne Arundel more attractive to prospective teachers. Schuh pointed out that he had increased funding to schools more than any other administration and also promised to catch the teachers up; but as the finances allow.

Public Safety: Pittman criticized Schuh for not hiring more officers and not funding the department adequately. Pittman has the endorsement of the rank and file officers and Schuh has the endorsement of the officers for the most part.  Schuh explained the lack of feet on the street saying that the infrastructure, notably the police training facility, could not handle the number of officers; but now that it is underway (along with a central booking facility) that the shortfall in officers should be made up.

Immigration: The most contentious part came when each candidate was questioned about illegal immigration. Pittman has proposed eliminating the 287g program that instructs correctional officer on how to interrogate inmates to determine if they might be here illegally and for possible release to the custody of ICE. Pittman said that the beds were better used for the opioid epidemic and that the program is instilling fear in the immigrant community. Schuh countered that it does not involve any policing on immigration issues and that by eliminating it, an illegal immigrant that has served his time for a crime woudl be released into society.

Abortion: And strangely, Mayor Buckley’s wife, texted Capital editor, Rick Hutzell in the middle of the debate and wanted the candidates to state their positions on abortion. Schuh said he is pro life, and that abortion is not a part of anything that the County woudl be involved with as it is a state and federal issue.

There were several other topics ranging from controlling the Sheriff to John Grasso to Lawrence Scott’s mailers. In the end, the supporters of Pittman (who were the majority in the crowd–after all it IS Annapolis, the blue blob in the middle of red Anne Arundel) left energized for their candidate. The supporters of Schuh, who were fewer in numbers, left fully energized for their candidate. Those who came to hopefully edge their decision one way walked away as they came–undecided.

If you missed the debate, we captured the audio of it here.

There are a few other debates/forums in the coming days.

  • October 22 at the Pascal Center at AACC at 1pm moderated by AACC’s Dr. Dan Nataf
  • October 23rd at the Bay Ridge Christian Church at 7pm. Presented by the Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation (environmental)
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About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 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.

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