Anne Arundel County Executive Stueart Pittman returns on the Maryland Crab Cake Tour at Pappas Restaurant in Glen Burnie to discuss second term progress, goals and what makes good local government.
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Nestor Aparicio, Stueart Pittman
Nestor Aparicio 00:00
Welcome back wn s t test a Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are positively on the road is all brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery we’re giving these away here at Pappas, one of our great sponsors our 25th anniversary, and our friends are window Nation. I’m going to wear the funny hat, the 866 90 nation, the window nation floppy. This feels like the end of summer. It’s just like a summer hat. And we are at the end of summer, a little Labor Day weekend here getting ready for football. And I’ve had a bunch of the county executives on we had Johnny Oh, join us over truck city for the beginning of the 25th anniversary also had Calvin Ball on down and Mako saw this guy, it may go a little bit. We already had the standing date, right? Because I was trying to get down here to Pappas, I had not been to the Pepsi Glenburnie. I haven’t done the show down here yet. And I said, I’m going to target that. Try to have you here and be a part of this. And today’s our day. How are you Stuart,
Stueart Pittman 00:50
you got me here, here we are at the bar having a good time. And I don’t know why you get to wear the hat and not me. But we’ll
Nestor Aparicio 00:57
let you wear the fun hat if you want to. I am going to give you one of the lottery tickets as part of all this. Absolutely. I mean state employees, we everybody together. The Mako thing with Don bowler and I got together to kind of start the podcast couple years ago as before COVID And he’s the guy you gotta get in and make or you gotta get into make. So I went down to Mako a couple three years ago, and I go with Bill Cole and his little, little mafia, and we run around parties and all that stuff. And I ran into a couple different times. It is it’s a it’s a wildest gathering, not just a business and politics, but just the people around the state and gathering that we have a place like ocean city where you can all be on the coastal highway and literally rub elbows with everybody from the governor down to anybody doing business with the state. It’s really cool place.
Stueart Pittman 01:41
Yeah, it is. And when you just go to the parties, you see one side of it, but I’m on the board of directors. And it’s a cool organization, because it is the leaders of county government. That’s where I think the rubber meets the road where a lot of the work gets done. And, you know, if you look at the counties in Maryland, central Maryland’s Democrats, the rest of Maryland’s Republicans, they’re more Republican counties in our Democrat counties. So it’s a real mix. And on our board, it’s a real mix. And it’s amazing how much everybody has in common. It’s one of the one of the most bipartisan organizations I’ve ever been a part of. And, and so a lot of good work gets done in the sessions. And but then yeah, I mean, we go out in the evening, and everybody who wants to influence what local government is doing, and the state government is there as well. Is there so you got everything from lobbyists to nonprofit organizations that are trying to get things done? And it’s really it’s a good time. The Convention
Nestor Aparicio 02:31
floor is just a scene, you know, just seeing people and people coming through and causes and, and obviously business and political like all that’s going on. But the last time I saw you, I’ve done this crab cake tour, right? We you were one of the first crab cakes we did, we did your GnM which is still in animal animal County, almost like sword. I couldn’t believe it was an inorganic brush up there. But since then, I’ve gone west several times II several times. I’ve had crab cakes in every county in the last two August to 30 crabcakes and 30 days, two years ago, 31 last year cluding your county I still got to get down to Edgewater and a few places. I got some good ones. And I’ve had some good ones boathouse and a bunch of other places. Seeing the you said that the senators democratic in the two wings, Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, when you’re in those environments, it is very bubbly. You know what I mean? Like that you’re not around other people to hear the other side. I don’t think that’s a problem on Ritchie highway, right? You know, everybody, we mix and mingle enough here if you don’t agree, you don’t agree. But I do think that that gathering in Ocean City and that gathering part where I get to know Carl Anderton right in from why comico county comes on the show. And I hear concerns that even as a Democrat and I’m I’m registered, we all know that. That I can hear that and say, I understand your point of view. And that’s something that there needs to be a discussion from both sides. And I know you’ve had a lot of that nanomechanics
Stueart Pittman 04:02
Yeah, well, in Roanoke County, we kind of like think of us as a microcosm of the country. We’re purple. We got we got urban, we got rural, we got Suburban, we got Annapolis, we got new new development out in West County. So we are we are everything all crammed into one county. And 590,000. Almost 600,000 People now in the
Nestor Aparicio 04:20
county still Yeah, so you’re gonna go over six? Yeah, yeah, we’re
Stueart Pittman 04:24
590 something. Okay. And actually, they just added a few 1000 Because that when they did the census, they didn’t include the Naval Academy.
Nestor Aparicio 04:32
Last I checked, yeah.
Stueart Pittman 04:34
So, but but I know that that’s important in this, you know, in this day and age and but no, I mean, local government, you know what it is? It’s the police department, the fire department, you know, it’s supporting the school system, its public works. It’s all of the things the institutions of local government, regardless of party people care about, they want the work to get done at the local level. When you start talking federal, you know, you start to get a whole different spin on it, but and that’s what you know, I think a lot of people You know, if if, if I wanted to run for office in on the Eastern Shore, I’d have to register as a Republican. in Anne Arundel County, I actually looked into registering as an independent because I thought that would be cool not to have a box around me. But it’s it’s, you know, people tend to go with what, what, what they need to be in order to be a public servant sometimes.
Nestor Aparicio 05:20
I asked this sort of blanket question, sir. What’s it what’s on your desk today? I mean, you know, I remember getting together years beginning of before the plague, I was with Barry Glassman, the day that the plague landed like that his phone was blowing up. We were together over state fair that morning, not knowing at all what anybody was getting into. I had you on prior to that. I would think during that period of time, and actually actually had you on Zoom during that. And that was all like batten down the hatches safety. All of what’s on your desk today. And obviously, being second elected. This is as anybody would say, this is a chance to get done. Whatever you really wanted to get done the first time, right. Yeah, to finish whatever it is you started.
Stueart Pittman 06:03
Yeah, yeah. I mean, today, I was meeting with the caucus of African American leaders. We meet quarterly, we were talking about a task force we had just done on trying to increase increase minority recruitment in the fire department, and government contracts, minority contracts throughout the county. And then as I was driving here, I was on the phone talking to somebody about a meeting that we have with Farm Bureau on Thursday, where we’ve purchased a grain elevator to try to save agriculture in Southern Maryland. Purdue was selling their grain elevator, the place where the farmers take picture crops. And we worked with the state to purchase that so that we can keep it open and now we’re trying to get an operator so so you know, that’s something that’s one of the balls in the air. I mean, there’s always there’s always 10 or 20 balls in the air. And that keeps the job Interesting.
Nestor Aparicio 06:45
Well, Sir Pitman’s here, account executive and Rhonda Kenny, we were at Pappus. In Glen Burnie first time here. It’s all brought to you by the Maryland lottery conjunction with our friends at window nation and trying to get out around the state a little bit especially, you know, after I wasn’t sure COVID is over, I still elbow bumped you I haven’t touched you. Right. You know, plenty people are in the bubble. My I saw my son for the first time last night in two months. They got COVID. They they didn’t taste food for like six weeks. And I’m like, it’s 2023. Right? But hold is you think you’re out of it. But the Mako thing for all the politicians is Europe sort of back on the trail to saying all right, we have Democrat in office, all of the red lines of all this stuff I heard from Larry Hogan, in your county in Annapolis. But two years ago, we went down and sat with the governor, then what are the changes that can get implemented county to county when I will see an agenda but at least a platform that you run on? And you say well, things would be different if we have a Democrat in Annapolis for a democratic county executive.
Stueart Pittman 07:48
You know, I like Larry Hogan. I like him as a person. I live near him now he moved into DAVIDSONVILLE. But he ran as a Republican, a member of the Republican Party on a platform that was very sort of the Reagan Republican agenda, which is that the private sector solves the problems and and the public sector, the government is the problem, that that’s sort of a theme. And nobody believes that completely. But I had the sense during that administration, that people were put in charge of departments, Cabinet Secretaries, who might have been a political ally, or coming out of the private sector and coming and then running an agency and having never been in government.
Nestor Aparicio 08:31
So well, the Trump administration was That was all? Well, yeah, and
Stueart Pittman 08:35
I’m not saying that he didn’t put in Cabinet had some good people in it. But there was a there were a lot of vacant positions. By the time he was done, you know, shrinking government was a goal. Now we have a Democratic governor, who is from the private sector. He’s never been in politics, he’s run businesses. He’s worked on Wall Street. He knows how all that works. But at the same time, he sees these departments accounting government, as a way to help solve problems. And so one of the things I noticed that Mako when we went to the reception with all the Cabinet Secretaries was, these folks are professionals. He hired people who are the best in their fields. And so that’s been refreshing. So we’ve had a lot of meetings with cabinet secretaries, Jake de who’s now housing community development, you know, we met with him and Glen Burnie, we’ve been working with the Ag Secretary on this on this grain elevator. And, and that, to me is it’s sort of refreshing that we’ve got people in government who want to use government help solve problems. And so that’s what we’re trying to do, too. And we were recognized, we’re not solving all the problems. The private sector is the backbone,
Nestor Aparicio 09:36
a lot of money, the taxes that you know, to give you guys to solve problems. Well,
Stueart Pittman 09:39
you know, it’s funny, though, that at the same time, I almost said O’Malley, sorry. Westmore got up in front of all these folks at the end of this conference. And I thought he was going to pat himself on the back and say, Look, seven months. Here’s all the great things we’ve done because he’s done some great things. But no, he said, Look, man, we need discipline we need fiscal discipline, we’re gonna have tough economic times ahead,
Nestor Aparicio 10:03
like the Republican message. Right, right, right. Because I was in and I was driving home that day and I it popped up on my Twitter. And I’m like, yeah, the headline is Democratic governor seven months in probably going to run for president. That’s always the way this thing’s couch saying fiscal. And I’m thinking to myself, that’s an interesting message, because I think Uncle Larry left a lot of money behind or left left a good situation behind for Well,
Stueart Pittman 10:24
well, but everybody knew that there was a lot of federal money in that money, right. And then there were a lot of vacancies and state government. So money wasn’t getting spent that was in the budget. So So yeah, there’s a surplus. And that’s great. And what and what Westmore is looking, you know, over the next four years, the longer term and what the economy might do. And he’s saying fiscal discipline, and anybody with any brains is going to say fiscal discipline you should have I mean, I always brag about fiscal discipline, we got a triple A bond rating from all three agencies. Historic thing, but first time thanks for I know, you’ve talked about that. Yes, I wouldn’t say it was fiscal discipline, it was because we were very disciplined about how we do our budgets. So it’s, it’s different, you know, and but but it also shows that the political lines are blurred, you know, you can’t put either larry hogan or Westmore in a box and say, You’re red. You’re blue. And and and that’s a good thing. Well, and
Nestor Aparicio 11:17
I think it speaks to the purple nature getting elected here. Right. I mean, you went through that in your county, you had one of the more contested elections that when you’re in purple, a lot of it is about the basic lines of integrity. Has that person had any any experience doing this? And then being an incumbent in the middle of a plague was not comfortable? For anyone? Yeah. You know, because you close businesses, you you’ve angered people, all of you did, right?
Stueart Pittman 11:47
Yeah. And I don’t think of it as you know, being purple means you have to compromise. I fight like hell for everything, I believe. Well,
Nestor Aparicio 11:54
was it blue or red? Yeah. I mean, the plague was employed, I guess, in some red quarters. They it wasn’t a thing. And then there’s the vaccines, which I know you guys
Stueart Pittman 12:04
thought it was, it was a thing everywhere, you know, they thought it was gonna be an urban thing. And then it turned out that the rural areas had the highest, the highest case numbers. So it was a thing everywhere. It was a question of how you looked at it. But
Nestor Aparicio 12:14
I guess I’m happy with how all that went from a man. No, it sucked. But you look back and have any? Well, of course, it’s so
Stueart Pittman 12:24
yeah, a lot of bad is a lot of hard decisions that we knew, you know, no matter what we did, people were going to die businesses were going to be hurt. It was a pandemic. And and let’s let’s just hope it never gets that bad again.
Nestor Aparicio 12:35
Well, you know, thinking about electability, at that point, you think about doing the right thing. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and doing the right thing that doesn’t lead to electability when you’re closing businesses.
Stueart Pittman 12:44
Now. There’s no good that is purplish, you could pull it off the path. Absolutely.
Nestor Aparicio 12:48
For you back to Mako minute, just like ground that gets covered down there. And back to that moment, Westmore speaks about fiscal, were you a little shocked by it? Or by the media’s treatment of it? Or what how the messages received by people to say, Are we we shrinking up in Maryland all of a sudden, because that that wasn’t a good message either. Well, I
Stueart Pittman 13:09
was a little bit surprised as it started to come out during the speech and I. But I was also glad, because you know, it’s easy to come into office and promise a whole bunch of stuff and raise everybody’s expectations. And this is not the first time he’s talked about fiscal discipline, either. It may be one of the times that more people listen, because he really, really stressed it. But no, I was I was really pleased. And I thought, Okay, this guy is playing the long game. He’s, he’s not looking for, you know, tomorrow, success. He’s not looking for a headline. He is setting us up. He’s lowering our expectations so that he can deliver at a high level, I hope.
Nestor Aparicio 13:53
What’s first let me met him because I met him. I don’t know. 767 years ago, he came out to the show. He was not running for office when I met. I mean, there was not I even looked, I went back and watched it to say, well, you know, he was Robert. I think, Donald I thought he’s gonna run for mayor. So literally, we thought well, he’ll sit on our show. And he’ll talk about living in Baltimore, being in Baltimore and a head of debt on and he lives in her district and, and I’m impressed by him more every day, but you’re sitting politician. He wasn’t even thinking about being a politician. When you you’re a guy that not wasn’t necessarily going to get into this line of work either. Oh, no, I
Stueart Pittman 14:31
always thought running for office was selling out. Oh, because I was an advocate from the outside assuring the organizer. No, it was most of my life and my wife always said she divorced me if I ran for office. That didn’t change. She decided that it was okay. She didn’t divorce me but it was never my intention would change that. You know, I? Well, Donald Trump getting elected. Made me feel like hey, look, I thought that I thought that that could send the country in a in a scary direction. And that was my view of it. But I also I also thought, Okay, here’s a guy who comes from the outside, he didn’t have any political experience. But But and then I knew that my own story, my own personal story, I spent a decade as a community organizer in Chicago and Iowa and then came back home here to enter Roanoke County. And then I got involved with Farm Bureau, and with environmental issues a little bit. And and I was always politically engaged in my mind. But I was running the farm, I was a farmer, and I was training horses for a living for 25 years.
Nestor Aparicio 15:30
People would say I met him in a tent at the Preakness a decade ago with Ross paddock Corps, I was president of the Maryland horse Council probably Yeah, and I had a conversation for 45 minutes where I realized I can like the entire county like executive at that point thing, just elected. But like, eight years, seven, eight years, whatever it was, feels like it was before the plague it sorry, ADPC for March of 2020, but when I didn’t, I didn’t think of myself farmers.
Stueart Pittman 15:57
Myself as that I started a nonprofit organization after that, you know, you do things in your life that start to sort of, to build your confidence and to help you figure out what you can do next. And I always feel like it’s a path that you never know, in advance what the path is, but you know, when it’s right, and you get on it. And so I thought, you know, maybe maybe I have something to offer here in the in the local political arena. I didn’t like the direction the county was going on development and some of the things I thought, well, I’ll run for county council, you know, it’s a republican district. But I know everybody, maybe I can win is different, even though I’m a Democrat, decided to jump into that race. And nobody was running against the incumbent county executive, Steve Chu. He was very well funded. And people thought of it as Republican county. And a couple of people came to me and so once you run for that, instead of county council, and it took me a couple of months of pondering over it, and then I thought, You know what, there is a coalition to be built in this county that can win this election. And if I can build that coalition and work with people as an organizer, like I used to do, we could we could pull this off and that’s what happened.
Nestor Aparicio 17:01
Well, I guess using all life experience try to bring people together. That’s kind of what drew me to Baltimore positive when I had political I didn’t see aspirations. I didn’t like the city falling apart. And I didn’t like Trump getting elected either. And I didn’t like what that meant for the city so that’s why literally why you’re sitting here right now and I’m in a sports bar not talking about the first place Orioles Lamar we can get to that later on because we can’t because I did I mean I wrote a book on the Ravens here is and you know so I mean I’m I’m a Ravens guy I’m
Stueart Pittman 17:28
ready I’m ready. I think it’s gonna be a good year but but I do have to credit myself with you know the the Orioles who are now in our Los oriolus I sat next to a guy who had Spanish was oriolus solos macoris as the new chant let’s oriolus some loss my course are the best Okay, okay, I’m gonna use that okay. And and, you know, they had lost the night before the Blue Jays six three. And so I went to the game and I was doing the first pitch and we won seven out results so
Nestor Aparicio 17:58
you want to know throwing out first pitches at Oriel? Yeah, they need me. Yeah, well, he might need you have to teach those went down as well. County executive Steuart Pittman out here it’s all brought to you by our friends and when their nation has threatened to wear the hat 866 90 nation Labor Day weekend it’s 10% off more I got the I got to do this for Len Rasca because Pappas restaurant we’re here in Glen Burnie his favorite crabcake he’s up in the Cockeysville location. We now have a Bel Air location we have the original Parkville location, but he gave me his crab mallet last year and it’s really special crab mal Tarascon because it has the beer bottle opener on the side of it. I have not christen this over Costas. But I shall at some point. Also, we’re going to be at fade Lee’s on the 15th with Coppin State President Dr. Anthony Jenkins as well as new hoops Head Coach Larry Stewart, who is no stranger to this program from back when he played for Fang so good things going on. ACOP will be doing that a February Excuse me. September 15 at fade Lee’s the EPS of fade leaves in February Stewart Pitman county executive here in animal County. So back to Wes and well
Stueart Pittman 19:00
let’s talk about the mount the diversion Yeah. This is this is connected to Mako Okay, and now I’m gonna really upset you know, anybody who knows me who works on my staff because I tend to embarrass people but people were dancing at the end there was a band there during the crabcake great band classes. And the band. Yeah, they started handing out tambourines and people have seen towards the bass player. He’s Andrew County resident Yeah, yeah, well, so my chief administrative officer was out there with tambourines and they were letting people sing and really get involved and so I grabbed two of these and man you can make a lot of noise with two of these crab mouths it hit them together.
Nestor Aparicio 19:34
There’s gonna be picture you looking like you’re assaulting me. And this is all done for Wes and for the changes and what he inherited and where we are in this federal money. It’s ambitious, right? I mean, I guess you run for for government. You want to be ambitious. First time you met him because when I met him, I didn’t see political aspirations. I saw like, it was Christmas time we sat we had a meal with our family. It wasn’t anything. And nobody, none of these people reached to me to campaign or this or that he came on the show like anybody else. It’s been a shocking sort of development, right? That a guy that pulled that 1% winds up in this position and feels at least seven months in pretty equipped to do this, right.
Stueart Pittman 20:21
Absolutely. Yeah. So when I first met him, he was he was planning to run. And I was introduced to him for that. And I was on a Zoom meeting by zoom. And the way we met everybody, yeah. And I was impressed. You know, it was a conversation. You could tell this guy was really charismatic and all that good stuff. Then I went and I read all his books. Yeah, all four I think there are. And so you really gave him a shot? Oh, yeah. And I really liked what he what he wrote. And I liked his story. And, and then when I when I was really sold, and I decided to endorse him very, very early on, it was pulling it about 1% I heard him speak in front of a group of mostly lobbyists and Harry browns on State Circle and Annapolis, it was kind of a small group at the bar. And, and he said that leave no one behind line. And I thought, Oh, that’s pretty radical stuff. I don’t know what these guys are gonna think about that. And then he said, it’s what I learned in the army, leading troops in Afghanistan. And, and I could feel my hair starting to stand up, like here was a message and I could see it in the lobbyists who are pretty hard to impress. And I thought, wow, you know, that worked. Like you made leaving no one behind seemed like a conservative value. And, and then I decided to endorse him. Because I felt as though this was somebody who could bring people together. And I’m always looking for a leader who can cut through the political BS.
Nestor Aparicio 21:52
Well, you were that guy. You tried to be that guy. Just in this count? I try every
Stueart Pittman 21:56
day. Yeah. But yeah, but that kind of talent.
Nestor Aparicio 22:00
You were pulling at 1%, Republican 0% with your wife, you couldn’t run. So I mean, but there is that point where I go tug McGraw You gotta believe somebody you have to believe in yourself to start with because nobody rolls out of bed with money, a bank roll, you know, an election committee. And that’s,
Stueart Pittman 22:20
but you know what, you know what else? I like two things. One is he had he had worked on Wall Street. And he doesn’t talk about that a whole lot. But he worked on Wall Street as an investment banker during the time during the 2008 meltdown, he saw it all happen in front of his very eyes. He understands how capitalism works. He understands how investment decisions get made. Then he went he worked for the Robin Hood Foundation, right, raising money and spending money in best practices to help communities that are that are got left behind completely during economic Upswing ultimate community organizer kind of role. Yeah, yeah, really. And and so to me, having having the values of wanting to have a more equitable economy, which nobody can deny that over the last 40 years, income inequality has increased in this country drastically, drastically.
Nestor Aparicio 23:11
I think it’s evident, being my age, I’ll be 55 It’s evidence seeing the last 40 years, and not just being a guy from Dundalk, who, you know, obviously Dundalk had its own challenges when the plant shut down. Yeah, but every Dundalk in America, and being a guy who’s been to 47 states and drives back roads and sees what it looks like, away from the airport, rural poverty and
Stueart Pittman 23:31
urban poverty all the way around then and, and then the wealth and how, you know, even the pandemic that people did really well, who had money in the stock market, and people who did well really well in certain industries, and and then the tax cuts keep getting applied to the wealthiest. So the tax rates go down on the wealthiest, and the people at the bottom are still stuck, right. And so and then crime grows and health issues and health disparities and all that. So we got work to do. We got we’ve got the great economic backbone in this country, we just have to make sure that we make that everybody benefits from it. And so I think that he has a good understanding on policy of things that can help to make that happen at the same time as growing the economy so that the backbone is strong. And that to me is is the magic formula.
Nestor Aparicio 24:21
So it’s crabcake tours all about We’re down here in Glen Burnie we are at Pappas, one of our great sponsors. We’ll be back up and cockys we will have Parkville and Bel Air at some point but we’re in Glen Burnie and Rowan County with the interim county executive the CTE steward Pittman is coming up from a where’s your office?
Stueart Pittman 24:36
Down in Annapolis?
Nestor Aparicio 24:37
All right. Yeah, I thought it was because you came up to GNN. Last, but you spend most of the time down on the south end of this.
Stueart Pittman 24:43
I live at the southern end. We’re up at the North right now. We’re a long skinny county
Nestor Aparicio 24:47
97 Man, just get on 97 All the way up
Stueart Pittman 24:51
to Baltimore. And we love Baltimore. We got a light rail that goes between us we can talk about that if you want some time.
Nestor Aparicio 24:56
I got married in Glen Burnie. So we’re gonna do a Let’s see police crime firefighters back to school. Orioles crabcakes we don’t get fit all that to cover we do county executive Steuart Pittman here it’s all brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery. I’ve been given away these instant lottery scratch offs. No $100 Winners yet today but we did want to have won a Coco’s last month. So appreciative of that. And our friends at window nation we’re back for more in Glen Burnie and perhaps I feel like Richard Sherman square off with this thing. Okay. All right after that, stay with us. Sorry about
Stueart Pittman 25:25