Ulman Plots Next Move

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Former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will announce his next position soon, he says.
Former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will announce his next position soon, he says.

Nearly two weeks after his eight-year term as Howard County executive came to an end, Ken Ulman is waiting to announce what his next move will be.

“One way or another I will be very involved in making a positive difference in the state of Maryland,” he said. “I hope to focus on innovation, the 21st-century economy, making sure Maryland is a real leader in the innovation economy [and] pushing forward solutions to our challenges whether that be in the private sector or the public sector.”

On Monday, Dec. 1, Republican Allan Kittleman was sworn in as the next county executive. While Ulman, 40, hoped to be heading to Annapolis in January as lieutenant governor under Anthony Brown, with the election of Larry Hogan and Boyd Rutherford, Ulman finds his future open to possibilities.

“I will be heavily involved [in the state] in one way or another and hope to announce very soon,” the Jewish Democrat said.

To that end, Ulman met Gov.-elect Larry Hogan at an Annapolis restaurant last week, according to The Washington Post. The two discussed economic development and a Hogan spokeswoman told the paper the meeting was productive.

Ulman has also met with his successor, with whom he spent some time discussing ongoing projects, such as the development happening in Town Center in Columbia.

As far as the gubernatorial election goes, Ulman attributes his ticket’s loss to a number of things.

“I think a big part of that was certainly the mood of the country,” he said, referring to the Republican momentum that gave the GOP control of the U.S. Senate and expanded its majority in the House of Representatives. “One thing you learn is that the higher up you go, there’s a more direct correlation with what’s going on in the country and the national mood.”

He also thought that after an “intense” primary, it was hard to continue that momentum leading up to the general election. While he didn’t directly say the tax hikes during the O’Malley-Brown administration — something critics of Brown often pointed to — contributed to the Democrats’ loss, he believes the economy and the continuing impact of the past recession played a role in voting.

“I think it’s incumbent upon elected officials to better connect the taxes that people pay to things that make a difference in their lives,” Ulman said. “To me, it’s not about taxes being too high or too low, it’s about demonstrating that people are getting value for their tax dollar.”

In Howard County, Ulman felt like he had that kind of rapport with his constituents. Between being one of the first counties to have once-a-week compost pickup, building a significant broadband network, launching telemedicine in schools, facilitating business development and high-tech opportunities and funding development in Columbia, renovations at the Merriweather Post Pavilion and transitional housing for inmates reentering the community, he feels he has given county residents their money’s worth.

“I feel like over the last eight years, we’ve done a number of things that have really sent that message both to our own citizens and to folks outside of Howard County, that you can count on Howard County to be a leader,” he said.

Columbia residents had a close relationship with the former county executive, according to Milton Matthews, president and CEO of the Columbia Association, the nonprofit organization that operates parks, recreational facilities and community centers in Columbia.

“His support for CA initiatives and his presence at many events in the community are reflective of a growing and collaborative relationship between CA and Howard County government,” Matthews said in a statement. “Ken was instrumental in our partnerships with county government, the business community and other stakeholders, which is
essential in the pursuit of our goal of making Columbia an even better place to live, work and play.”

Ulman also left an impression on his fellow Jews, having been a consistent presence at the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s events, including the annual Yom Hashoa commemoration. He was also involved in getting Elta, the Israeli company that makes the Iron Dome radar system, to come to Howard County, said Michelle Ostroff, the federation’s executive director.

“He was very instrumental in making that happen and that was a great thing for the county, great thing for Israel and a great thing for the Jewish community in general,” said Ostroff.

With a lot of support in his home county, would he consider running for office again?

Said Ulman: “I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

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