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Laura Neuman Becomes Anne Arundel County Executive
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February 22, 2013
Nathan Sterner: In a stunning move last night, the Anne Arundel County Council chose a relative political unknown to replace former County Executive John Leopold who resigned in disgrace February 1, after being found guilty of two misconduct charges. WYPR’s News Director Joel McCord was there and joins us by phone from Annapolis. Good morning Joel.
Joel McCord: Good morning.
Nathan Sterner: And I guess the first thing we need to know is who is this relative political unknown who’s becoming the next County Exec?
McCord: She’s Laura Neuman. She’s the CEO of Howard County’s Economic Development Authority, and she’s been in that job since April 2011. Before that, she worked in some public and private sector jobs and this is the first time as far as we know that she’s tried for any elected office.
Sterner: Have you heard from any of the council members about why they decided to vote for her?
McCord: A number of reasons. One: they were looking for some new faces. Jerry Walker, the Council Chairman, told me after the vote he believes that the County needs a political outsider, not an insider. Keep in mind, some of the other candidates have been affiliated with John Leopold one way or another. But then, there’s her amazing story. She’s a high school drop out, rape victim, community college drop out, who talked her way into a job as a customer service rep for T. Rowe Price when they were only hiring college graduates. Then, she was recruited to Loyola’s MBA program. When she told them she didn’t even have a high school diploma, they made an exception, took her anyway. Now, she’s got a Loyola MBA. Chris Trumbauer, who represents the Annapolis area, called her a very impressive individual who’s really able to articulate what she wanted to bring to the county as far as new direction and leadership.
Sterner: Just one year ago, it took 108 ballots to choose a replacement for County Councilman Daryl Jones after he was convicted on tax charges. Did the County Council have the same amount of trouble reaching consensus on this one; how many votes did it take?
McCord: Thankfully, no. A mere three ballots. It was kind of surprising. You saw little movement after the first ballot, and you started to wonder, oh, here we go again. But then the third ballot, four votes went quickly to Neuman, and that was that.
Sterner: As you alluded, there were a number of better known names in the running – Acting County Executive John Hammond, former County Executive John Gary, Delegate Steve Schuh from Gibson Island, and former Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich. How did those candidates fare in the voting?
McCord: Well, let’s see. Neither Kendel Ehrlich nor John Gary got any votes in the first round and were immediately out. Steve Schuh was in it until the end, until the Council in fact chose Neuman. He had two votes in that last round of votes.
Sterner: So what are the next steps for a Laura Neuman administration? When does she take over, and what does she have to do?
McCord: Well, she takes over at noon today in the County courthouse. She’s to be sworn in. She’s got to pick herself a new administration, although she says “give me a couple weeks to figure that out.” To get to know who she needs to know and what she needs to know about personnel before she makes any changes.
Sterner: Some of the folks who had wanted the post had vowed only to serve the rest of the current term; others said they’d run again in 2014. Do we know Neuman’s plans for her political future?
McCord: She has said that she has no plans to run again in 2014. In fact I believe the only person who was seeking the office who does plan to run in 2014 is Delegate Steve Schuh.
Sterner: That’s WYPR News Director Joel McCord, reporting on the selection of Howard County Economic Development Authority Chief Laura Neuman to become the next Anne Arundel County Executive. Thank you Joel.
McCord: Okay, you’re welcome.
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