ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the formation of a commission to solicit and recommend new designs for the official Howard County flag. It has been more than 50 years since the original Howard County flag was adopted. Pictures from the event can be found here. Video can be found here.  

The Howard County flag should represent the vibrancy and incredible diversity of our community. Our process will invite the public to reimagine this central symbol and produce recommendations for a design that inspires current and future County residents.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The current flag was designed more than 50 years ago in 1968. Jean O. Hannon’s design was chosen among 40 entries. The current flag is a red and white design which incorporates part of the Maryland flag – specifically the Crossland arms. On the upper left corner, a sheaf of wheat in gold symbolizes the agricultural heritage of the County. In the bottom right quarter, a green outline of the county is set in a triangle of gold symbolizing the unique position of Howard in the future development of the eastern seaboard.  
 
“The Flag Commission is a great opportunity to reflect what Howard County is today,” said County Council Chair Deb Jung. “I’m looking forward to seeing the County’s artistic talents during this process.” When the Howard County flag was adopted more than five decades ago, the County’s population was roughly 60,000 and the landscape was still largely rural. The same year, the voters would adopt a referendum to shift from a smaller commission-based government to a locally-elected County Executive and Council. The “new town” of Columbia had just opened in 1967, which would become a catalyst for rapid growth and transformation. Today, Howard County has a population of over 335,000 and is among the most racially diverse, highly-educated and highest-earning counties in the nation.  

The Commission will solicit designs from the public through a website portal. The Commission will come up with the criteria used to evaluate the submissions and will then select up to 10 designs for public feedback. The public will have a chance to vote for their favorites. The Commission will select three of the top five publicly voted submissions and present them to the County Executive.  
 
The 19-member Commission will consist of the following representatives: 

  • Chair: Executive Director of the Howard County Arts Council, or their designee  
  • Four Howard County residents, as recommended by members of the County Council  
  • Executive Director of Howard County Lynching Truth and Reconciliation, Inc., or their designee  
  • Archivist of the Columbia Association, or their designee  
  • Two representatives of the Howard County Historical Society, including the Executive Director, or their designee  
  • Representative of the African American Community Roundtable of Howard County  
  • Representative of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) commission  
  • Representative of the LGBTQIA+ commission  
  • Representative of La Alianza Latina commission  
  • President & CEO of the Howard County Library System, or their designee   
  • President & CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, or their designee  
  • Executive Director of Howard County Tourism Council, Inc., or their designee   
  • President of the Howard County Farm Bureau, or their designee   
  • President of Howard Community College, or their designee  
  • Representative of the faith community, as selected by the County Executive  

“The County has changed dramatically since 1968. I am excited to tap into the creative talents of our community to design a new flag,” said Coleen West, Executive Director of the Howard County Arts Council and Chair of the Howard County Flag Commission. “I look forward to working with this exceptional group of community leaders to recommend new flag design options that will reflect Howard County’s diversity, values, and unique position in the state.” 

The Commission will begin soliciting public design submissions this spring. Preliminary selection of designs for public vote will occur in the fall. By the winter of 2025, the Commission will select three finalists and publish its recommendations. Finalists will each receive a monetary honorarium for their work.  
 
The adoption of a new flag requires legislative authorization. The County Executive will evaluate the three recommended designs and choose one to present to the County Council for final approval. 
 
Members of the public are encouraged to weigh in during several meetings throughout the process. The dates and locations of meetings will be posted periodically on the Commission’s webpage at www.howardcountymd.gov/flag.  
 
Questions or comments about the flag design and selection process may be directed in an email to [email protected]

Howard County has become significantly more diverse over the last 50 years, and it is important that all residents see themselves represented by our county flag. That is why I appreciate County Executive Ball's plan to convene a diverse and public process to develop a new flag for at least the next 50 years.  I greatly appreciate and look forward to the work of this new commission.

Clarence Lam
Maryland State Senator
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