Dear Readers,

Politics is always touchy to discuss. In today’s polarized nation, it is even more difficult than usual. I have great respect for folks with opinions unlike mine, but I think we all need to stand up against forces trying to attack the basic institutions of democracy for their own political gain or survival. Democracies are fragile and we need to protect ours.

Before discussing the primary races coming up shortly, let’s pay our respects to Kevin Kamenetz. Kevin was a bright, motivated and well-intentioned man. I knew him for many years. He was passionate in his pursuit of a better Baltimore County and served us well as county executive for the past eight years. The loss of someone as full of vitality as Kevin is a shock but should make us all reflect on the fragility of life and our need to make every day count. Kevin made every day count and we are all living a better life because of his grand efforts. He will be missed.

We have been asked many times if Jmore will endorse candidates and the answer is a wishy-washy yes and no. Our Editorial Board consists of myself, editor-in-chief Alan Feiler and managing partner Jonathan Oleisky. We have only made endorsements where we felt there were critical differences among the candidates or our thoughts mattered. In races without significant competition, we have not made an endorsement. In a few races, we didn’t have enough familiarity with the candidates to make a choice. However, we humbly submit our thoughts below. Please don’t just accept these endorsements — do your own homework, talk to the candidates, read their websites, Google them, etc.

For Governor

Larry Hogan on the Republican side and Rushern Baker for the Democrats. Mr. Hogan has shown the rare skill of bipartisanship in a very tribal world. He has stayed away from the ultra-right wing social issues and has focused on Maryland issues. Small businesses drive our economy and he champions their causes. Maryland has noticed his style and he is one of the nation’s most popular governors in a state where he is part of the minority party. Mr. Hogan has also fought off a major medical illness with grace and positivity while never missing a day of his state responsibilities. He is very hard not to like, even for us liberal Dems.

Mr. Baker has shown great leadership as Prince George’s County Executive. He walked into a nightmare of corruption involving his predecessor. He righted the ship, landed development projects and reduced crime. Mr. Baker will focus on education, health care and the opioid crisis. There are certainly areas that need attention. With the tragic loss of Kevin Kamenetz, Mr. Baker is the clear choice for democratic primary.

Baltimore County Executive

Jim Brochin is our choice on the Democratic side. County executive races tend to be dominated by candidates who carry the developers’ battle flag. The developers are greatly affected by the decisions made at the county level and give generously to these candidates. Jim is likely to take a balanced approach on development. These projects are important but they need to be thought through in regard to their community impact. We also feel Brochin, with his outsider mentality, is most likely to put county needs ahead of the needs of any particular development group.

Al Redmer is our candidate of choice for county executive on the Republican side. Al has very capably run the insurance commission through difficult times. He has protected consumers in a very difficult climate of rising insurance costs and plan failures. Al was also a very competent state legislator and small businessman. The other thing we like about Mr. Redmer is his easy approachability and affable nature. All politicians should be as voter-friendly as Al is.

Other Races

In the House of Delegates race for the 11th District, Amy Blank shows real promise. She is a seasoned community activist with a background that includes working at Planned Parenthood and the Baltimore Jewish Council. The two incumbents — Shelly Hettleman and Dana Stein — deserve reelection.

In the 2nd District, we endorse Izzy Patoka for Baltimore County Council. Izzy has solid credentials with years working in the city and county planning departments. He knows the inner workings and how to get things done for constituents. Most interesting has been watching Izzy gain his voice on this campaign. He seemed to start off scared to say anything that would irritate anyone, but he seems to have realized that the public wants to know what he thinks and how he will legislate. We hope that as the son of Holocaust survivors, he takes up the cause of immigrants as a councilman.

With great humility and willingness to be chastised by those who disagree,

Scott Rifkin, MD