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Kittleman looks for other avenues to remove sheriff

Howard County Executive Alan H. Kittleman. (File photo)

Howard County Executive Alan H. Kittleman. (File photo)

Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman is looking for other avenues to remove his county’s embattled elected sheriff and has called on the county attorney to look for other options.

Kittleman, in an interview Monday, continued to call for Sheriff James F. Fitzgerald to leave office.

“This is about me directing the county Office of Law to leave no stone unturned,” Kittleman said.

One option, according to the Howard County executive, could be to join a lawsuit filed by Fitzgerald’s 2014 General Election opponent. In that April lawsuit, Republican John McMahon states that Fitzgerald is not legally the sheriff because he is not a county resident and because he failed to be legally sworn in after winning in November 2014.

The Office of Human Rights report notes that Fitzgerald was not sworn in to begin his third term in office.

Kittleman said the county attorney will review that lawsuit “to see if it is viable.”

In a statement Monday, Kittleman said he remains disappointed that Fitzgerald has not resigned following the release last month of the county Office of Human Rights investigation.

“I have previously called upon local state legislators to begin the impeachment process to address the numerous complaints surrounding Sheriff Fitzgerald,” Kittleman, a first-term Republican, said in the statement. “However, I continue to hear concerns from all parts of the community that this course of action won’t happen fast enough. I agree.”

Fitzgerald, a Democrat who is serving his third term as sheriff, is facing calls from the public and as well as from Democratic and Republican officials to leave office or face impeachment following a county Office of Human Rights report that outlined instances of harassment of subordinates and use of derogatory comments for women and racial epithets. Fitzgerald has refused to resign and has not apologized for the comments attributed to him in the report.

“His egregious conduct and behavior as detailed in a Howard County Office of Human Rights investigation are incompatible with the values of inclusion and respect that we hold dear in Howard County,” Kittleman said in the statement.“I have directed the Howard County Office of Law to explore any and all legal means available through the court system to expedite the removal of Sheriff Fitzgerald from office in order to protect the interests of Howard County.  Once those options are determined, I will direct the Office of Law to proceed with the most prudent and expeditious path.

“It is my sincere hope that we will be able to resolve this matter quickly so that a replacement can be appointed and our community can begin the process of healing.”