Photo: Baltimore County Government
All this week we’ve been reflecting upon the sudden and unexpected death of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who passed way at just 60 years old, leaving behind his wife, Jill, and their two sons. While the loss is especially difficult for his family and loved ones, we can all learn from his legacy of leadership and fierce commitment to the community. No matter how his constituents and political adversaries viewed him, they all agree he had the region’s best interests in mind as he fought for what he believed was the best approach for his constituents.
In eight years as county executive he never raised taxes, yet was able to lead a school construction program, an economic redevelopment for Towson, addressed racial discrimination practices in the county’s affordable housing among other achievements. At the time of his death Kamenetz was among the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland.
Despite those achievements, his style was consistently under attack, with many describing it as abrasive and arrogant. In a recent Baltimore Sun interview, he took on that characterization, saying “I’ll accept whatever criticism is out there. That comes with the job. The real answer is the results. We’re getting things done and we’re not raising taxes, and I think we’ve got a host of solid accomplishments that will serve this county well for the next generation. That’s the bottom line.”
In Kamenetz’s view, how you get there can be debated all you want. Leadership styles vary. What constituents and taxpayers really want is likely the shape Baltimore County is in today – a well-run county government that serves its 832,000 citizens. That was his reputation and that’s the legacy he leaves us.