Information released via Press Release today:

May 28, 2019

Media Contacts:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Charmaine Wilson, Citizens’ Election Fund Liaison, Department of Finance, 410-313-2061

Howard County Citizens’ Election Fund Commission to Hold First Meeting

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – The Howard County Citizens’ Election Fund Commission will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, June 4 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive in Ellicott City, to discuss the commission’s path forward.

“Our democracy should reward the candidates with the best ideas, not the deepest pockets,” said Ball. “As a member of the Howard County Council, I, along with a majority of the Council, supported the option for candidates competing for County Executive and County Council offices to utilize public financing. The voters of Howard County agreed via referendum in the 2016 General Election. Since the passage of the referendum, I helped ensure, through the establishment of the Citizens’ Election Fund, a process that would be accessible and fair to all candidates and contributors. I am so excited for this first meeting of the Election Fund Commission and proud to get PAC money out of Howard County politics. The future of our elections will now be more transparent and people powered.”

Established through legislation in 2017, the Citizens’ Election Fund Commission consists of seven members responsible for overseeing and administering Howard County’s Citizens’ Election Fund. The fund is a voluntary program for small donor financing of local campaigns. Candidates choose to participate and accept the conditions associated with public campaign funds. By accepting these funds, candidates agree to forgo private contributions from political action committees, corporations, labor organizations or state and local central committees of any political party.

An interpreter for people who are deaf or hard of hearing will be available if requested seven working days prior to the meeting. Please call the Citizens’ Election Fund Liaison at 410-313-2061 (voice) or use Relay at 7-1-1, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information about the Citizens’ Election Fund and commission, visit http://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Finance/Citizens-Election-Fund.

Those interested in donating to the Citizens’ Election Fund can do so online at http://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Finance/Citizens-Election-Fund or via their quarterly water and sewer bill. Donations made to the Citizens’ Election Fund go toward Maryland State Board of Elections certified candidates who opt to participate in the program. The fund will be available to candidates during the 2022 election cycle.

For questions or more information about the commission and fund, contact Charmaine Wilson, Citizens’ Election Fund Liaison, at 410-313-2061 or email chwilson@howardcountymd.gov.

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When this was first introduced I was torn…as I could see the value but also had concerns about tax dollars going to candidates running for office.

After the referendum in 2016 passed…I was like…sure…let’s give it a shot.

After this current budget cycle…I am back to being very much on the fence about this funding of candidates through tax dollars. Some of my concern comes from the following:

  • County Executive candidates – must collect at least $40,000 from 500 donations to get matching funds. Candidates for County Executive can unlock $700,000 in funds.
  • County Council candidates – must collect at least $10,000 from at least 125 donations. Candidates for County Council can unlock up to $85,000 in funding.
  • According to Maryland PIRG, the system will cost under $3 million over four years if two candidates for County Executive and 15 candidates for County Council receive the maximum amount of public funding allowed under the system.

Again…I still see the value…but the FY 2020 budget cycle for Howard County has been a difficult one. The outlook ahead does not look promising especially with statements like this from the recent Spending and Affordability Committee Report “Without changes to revenues or expenditures, current patterns of spending are unsustainable in the long-term,” said the committee report. “We believe that a significant challenge for policy makers will be to balance pending fiscal restraints against historical levels of service, so that the needs of the population are met.”

What are your thoughts now? Has your opinion on this fund changed since 2016? Do the potential budget difficulties ahead give you concerns? Do you think this is still the right thing to do and the county should find new ways to increase revenue to fund all of their priorities (schools, fire, police, roads, etc…)?

Let me know in the comments on the blog or on social media.

Scott E

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