Howard needs Ques­tion A

Baltimore Sun - - WORLD - David Marker, Columbia

I was very dis­ap­pointed but not sur­prised to see that Howard County Ex­ec­u­tive Alan Kit­tle­man has come out against Ques­tion A and that his cam­paign trea­surer is one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the op­po­si­tion (“Howard should nix Ques­tion A,” Oct. 14). Ques­tion A will al­low can­di­dates who agree to not ac­cept large con­tri­bu­tions to have the abil­ity to cam­paign suc­cess­fully by hav­ing their small donors’ con­tri­bu­tions matched with pub­lic funds. There are three rea­sons why such a sys­tem is vi­tal to a healthy democ­racy:

First, it will ex­pand the pool of likely can­di­dates by en­cour­ag­ing those with­out big money back­ers that they too can com­pete. Sec­ond, it makes our elected of­fi­cials less be­holden to groups like de­vel­oper Howard Hughes whose de­vel­op­ment plans run counter to the wishes of lo­cal res­i­dents. Third, it makes can­di­dates fo­cus on the needs of their con­stituents be­cause they can raise enough funds to com­pete by spend­ing their time work­ing closely with them.

Mr. Kit­tle­man says, “There’s no ques­tion I sup­port pub­lic fi­nanc­ing of lo­cal cam­paigns” but then op­poses it be­cause we may need to sup­ple­ment a check-off sys­tem with some money out of pub­lic funds. You can­not ask can­di­dates to swear off large con­trib­u­tors un­less you guar­an­tee that the op­tion of pub­lic fund­ing will be avail­able. And you can’t make that guar­an­tee with­out hav­ing pub­lic funds to back up the check­off. No one knows how many will agree to check-off on their taxes to con­trib­ute to the sys­tem. So if you are re­ally in fa­vor of pub­lic fi­nanc­ing of elec­tions, you have to sup­port Ques­tion A.

This should not be a par­ti­san is­sue. Repub­li­can Gover­nor Larry Ho­gan would not have been elected with­out the use of pub­lic funds in Mary­land to un­der­write his cam­paign. Once elected, he re­plen­ished the pub­lic funds into the ac­count to sup­ple­ment the check-off sys­tem. We need the same process in Howard County to fund our fu­ture county ex­ec­u­tive and coun­cil can­di­dates. That is why we need to vote “for” Ques­tion A.

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