Watch CBS News

WJZ Exclusive: Howard County Executive Calvin Ball Launches Re-Election Campaign, Talks About Racism He's Faced As County Leader

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) -- He's one of the most powerful public servants in the state of Maryland and the first African American to serve as the County Executive of Howard County.

And Dr. Calvin Ball said he is not done yet.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Tuesday he will seek re-election.

In his announcement, Ball's office said Howard County became a model across the nation for his COVID-19 response. Howard County was the first Maryland county to vaccinate 50% of its residents.

WJZ was the only station to learn well in advance that Ball would defy what others had predicted -- that he would seek to run for governor of Maryland. He spoke only to WJZ's Vic Carter about this decision and shared some disturbing things people have said to him during his tenure.

Columbia was founded on the tenets of equity on diversity. However, bringing people together doesn't necessarily eliminate conflict -- sometimes it even causes conflict.

During his term as county executive, Dr. Ball faced a number of incredible challenges. Under his watch, he directed the mitigation of potential deadly floodwaters in downtown Ellicott City. He oversaw the construction of a new $75 million courthouse. He sought to bring technology and wifi within reach of the poorest citizens and he navigated some of the most tumultuous times in our nation's history -- the coronavirus pandemic and the recurring issues of race that have brought violence and fear across the nation.

"I am an educator and mediator by trade and so my goal is to educate, empower and bring people together," Ball said. "Of course as a black man who has grown up in Maryland, I have seen some of the challenges, the struggles."

"So having these critical conversations on race - this racial reckoning spoke to me personally," Ball said. "However when I saw things like anti-semetism, islamophobia, Asian hate, my goal was to serve all of Howard County and be that beacon of hope for all of Maryland."

Through it all, Ball reflects on his own life and how race issues affected him personally as the first African American to lead the wealthiest county in the state.

Vic Carter: Have you ever experienced an issue of race in your life?

Ball: I have experienced a great deal of racism in my life, of course, as a young man aspiring to do more and then as county executive. Unfortunately, oftentimes when there are decisions made, we went from a place of the more overt racism like being just called the n-word to the more subtle racism. Things like when I make a decision on the full spectrum of affordable housing, people would say, "Well, we don't want you to bring those people from Baltimore." Or talking about making sure our neighbors, who are immigrants, are safe and feel safe. Hearing things like, "We don't want those people or why don't we build the wall taller." There is just so much "otherism" that when we can bring people together. When we can get rid of the negativity, we can achieve so much more as a people and as a community.

Ball said he will continue to emphasize education, economic and environmental growth if re-elected.

"We've made incredible progress over the last several years, but the work is not yet done. As we continue to progress on the road to recovery, we will ensure all residents are healthy and thriving following a global pandemic, we foster the best teaching and learning environment for our students and educators, local businesses continue to grow and prosper, and our environment is sustainable for generations to come," Ball stated.

There is no other candidate announced for the 2022 election for Howard County Executive.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.