Capital Newspaper Editorial Page 8/29/18
People warned me.
“Steve Schuh plays hardball,” they said. “Steve Schuh will intimidate your donors. Steve Schuh’s political operation is led by a guy who destroys other Republicans with glee, and he will eat you alive.”
I listened, consulted, and concluded that Steve Schuh and the tactics of his friend Lawrence Scott are too divisive for Anne Arundel County voters. I wasn’t surprised in April when public polling showed Schuh with a 41 percent approval rating, 35 points down from Hogan’s.
Now that the teachers, firefighters, police, and other county employees have stood up to their boss and endorsed my campaign, along with both Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters, I don’t worry about personal attacks from Schuh and Scott.
I welcomed the polite displays of civility in the early stages of the campaign. Schuh’s claims of “historic investments” in his areas of greatest vulnerability — education, public safety, and the environment — were right on script, and his election-year pivot from reckless growth to smart growth was no surprise. “He’s starting to sound a lot like you,” I was told. All positive.
Then the fundraising pressure hit. Schuh’s most reliable donors are in the development business, and they wrote their checks when they needed to get their projects approved. Most reached their $6,000 state-enforced limit long ago.
So on a recent Saturday, the Schuh campaign turned to online fundraising with an attack email that somehow arrived in my inbox.
Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters must also have received it, because he wrote at length about its contents, saying, “The racial overtones cannot be ignored.” It was vintage Lawrence Scott fearmongering.
The subject of the email was, “Coming Soon: Ben Jealous and Co.”
It says, “My opponent is an ally of Ben Jealous who refuses to sign the no tax increase pledge, and his only political experience was as a ‘community organizer’ for ACORN in Chicago. Yes, you read that right.”
I thought this campaign was about education, public safety, development, and the environment here in Anne Arundel County. But if they want to talk about me, let’s do it. I love talking about my early experience as a community organizer.
The Chicago part was my first job out of college. We brought people together in their south side neighborhoods to fight crime, attract private investment, and force a hazardous waste storage facility to stop leaking toxic chemicals into the groundwater.
I did that work in Des Moines, Iowa as well, and I was good at it. I learned a lot about how local government and the private sector succeed or fail for the communities they serve.
When I returned home in 1990, I was hired to oversee research and campaign planning for neighborhood organizing efforts in 26 cities. I also put those skills to work in our county for Farm Bureau and the Soil Conservation District.
That’s why our campaign slogan is Putting Communities First. And that’s why our campaign is structured around sixteen Communities First Forums. People in this county want a voice, and the only way to get it is to organize.
I’ve never actually seen “the no tax increase pledge” that Schuh says I refused to sign. If it’s that Grover Norquist thing that’s been floating around Washington for years, I suspect that they don’t bother sending it to farmers like me who run for office. We are so tight with money that we don’t need to make promises about overspending and overtaxing.
And as far as making pledges about things we can’t control, that’s another thing farmers don’t do. We understand that we can’t control the weather and we don’t know when the next economic crisis will hit. Steve Schuh promised a 3 percent tax cut four years ago that he couldn’t deliver. My promise is participatory budgeting with the taxpayers of this county.
Oh, and that Ben Jealous thing? Guess what, Steve. He is running for governor.
If you wanted to run against him you needed to beat Hogan in the primary. Not likely. You’re stuck running against me.
Steuart Pittman of West River is the Democratic candidate for Anne Arundel County executive.
Pirate's Cove Restaurant