By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor,

Kevin Kamenetz, the two-term Baltimore County Executive and gubernatorial candidate died early this morning of cardiac arrest, sending shockwaves across the state. He was 60.

According to a press release by Baltimore County Police, Kamenetz was at his home in Owings Mills when he awoke around 2 a.m. saying that he felt ill. He was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center where he was declared dead at 3:22 a.m.

Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive, died unexpectedly May 10. Kamenetz, who attended multiple AFRO events, is pictured with Jake Oliver, AFRO Publisher Emeritus. (AFRO file photo)

Kamenetz has been a prominent figure on Maryland’s political scene for about 25 years. He was a strong supporter of the AFRO American Newspapers, attending events such as the 125th anniversary newspaper celebration and when the AFRO honored Blacks in higher education in 2017.

He was born in the Baltimore County community of Lochearn, but graduated from the prestigious Gilman School in Roland Park in Baltimore City. Kamenetz went on to obtain his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 1979 and graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1982. He was a practicing attorney for about 30 years, including a stint as a prosecutor in the Office of Baltimore City State’s Attorney from 1982-1987.

He served four terms as a member of the Baltimore County Council from 1994-2010, representing the Second District, before he was elected as Baltimore County Executive in 2010.

Kamenetz participated in a gubernatorial forum last night at Bowie State University in Prince George’s County.

“Tonight I’m at Bowie State…to talk about how Valerie Ervin (his running mate) and I will bring results back to our state. Together we’ll restore our schools to the nation’s best, grow our economy by growing the middle class and protect our environment for generations to come,” Kamenetz wrote on Twitter prior to taking to the debate stage in Bowie last night.

The gubernatorial forum scheduled to take place at UMBC this evening has been cancelled. Instead, at 7 p.m. there will be a tribute to Kamenetz at the school’s University Center Ballroom.

A wave of condolences and prayers for Kamenetz and his family has poured in from around the state from his fellow gubernatorial candidates, as well as other major political figures, including the man whose job Kamenetz wanted to take. Baltimore City government buildings lowered their flags to half-mast in honor of Kamenetz.

“I was extremely saddened on hearing the news of the untimely passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.  He was someone I’ve worked with for many years and was very supportive of many AFRO programs,” said Jake Oliver, AFRO Publisher Emeritus, in a statement. “ On many levels he enhanced the diversity of Baltimore County’s administration and improved the quality of life for the citizens of the County.  He was a sensitive and effective leader.  He will be sorely missed.  My prayers go out to his lovely wife Jill, and their sons,” he added.

“The First Lady and I are shocked and grieved by the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Our prayers go out to his family and many loved ones this morning,” Gov. Larry Hogan wrote on Twitter.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh remembered Kamenetz as strong supporter of Baltimore City. “Kevin was an ardent supporter of Baltimore City, who was a regular in our restaurants, cultural venues and at our major team games,” said Pugh in a statement. “I considered him a friend and colleague, and admired him for his commitment to pursuing the best interests of Baltimore County residents, even while advocating for all Marylanders in his pursuit to be governor. Our hearts go out to his wife, Jill and their two sons, and the many who cherished his friendship, easy smile and determined spirit.”

Verletta White, the interim superintendent for Baltimore County Public Schools described Kamenetz as a “tireless supporter” of the school system she leads.

“First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz,” White said in a statement. “We are saddened and shocked by the news…and I am thankful for his commitment and dedication to the children of Baltimore County.”

“I’m incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz,” said Ben Jealous, former NAACP president and gubernatorial candidate. “He dedicated his life to public service, to making a difference and he helped to move Maryland forward. My sincerest thoughts and prayers are with Jill and their two sons.”

Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Executive and gubernatorial candidate said he worked closely with Kamenetz on a variety of issues impacting our state over the years.

“Today is a tragic day in Maryland. Citizens around the State of Maryland awoke to terrible shocking and sad news…that Kevin Kamenetz passed away earlier this morning. I was with Kevin yesterday evening at a Democrat gubernatorial forum at Bowie State University,” stated Baker. “As much as Kevin was advocating for what was best for Baltimore County, he was also always looking out for all Marylanders…The thoughts and prayers of Prince George’s County are with our neighbors in Baltimore County along with the family and friends of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.”

“Kevin Kamenetz’s passing is a tremendous loss for Maryland,” said Jim Shea, former chair of the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland. “He was a dedicated public servant, and I considered him a friend. My heart goes out to Jill and his family, along with his many friends and staff.”

Bishop J.L. Carter, president of the Ministers Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity, said Kamenetz played a role in his installation as president of the Ministers Conference.

“Life is precious and sometimes taken for granted, but the life of Kevin Kamenetz was one of integrity, honor, respect and not taken for granted,” Carter said in a statement. “His gift to blend seemingly with all religious gathering was priceless. Our prayers are in position for Baltimore County, the State of Maryland and certainly, his wife and two sons. We have lost a phenomenal public servant.”

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor