Hillary Clinton for president
Rarely has the choice for president been this clear. Democrat Hillary Clinton brings decades of experience in government, well-thought-through positions on the most pressing issues facing the nation, a steady temperament and clear compassion for society’s most vulnerable. Republican Donald Trump, by contrast, has no experience in public service and displays a willful ignorance of foreign and domestic affairs. He has used his campaign to stoke anger and fear through mockery and bullying. He routinely denigrates women and minorities. He is easily provoked and mercurial. To those who consider both candidates to be flawed, divisive figures, we say this: To the extent that Ms. Clinton is divisive, it is a byproduct of decades spent in the political arena attempting to translate her values into policy; Mr. Trump courts divisiveness as a tactic to further his ambition. Weendorse Ms. Clinton.
Van Hollen for Senate
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, is the clear choice to succeed Sen. Barbara Mikulski. He was a star in Maryland’s legislature, and he has quickly moved up the ranks in Congress since he was first elected in 2002. He brings deep experience in both foreign and domestic policy, and in particular on issues related to the federal budget. His efforts to negotiate budget deals with the Republicans have been enormously important for Maryland’s economy. His Republican opponent, Del. Kathy Szeliga, is a talented candidate and would bring a valuable perspective as a small-business owner to the Senate. But on issues like tax policy, the environment, public safety, the economy, education and health care, Mr. Van Hollen’s views align far more closely with Senator Mikulski’s — and with those of most Maryland voters. We endorse Mr. Van Hollen.
For state Question 1
The lone statewide ballot question this year is a proposed amendment to Maryland’s constitution dealing with the replacement of the attorney general or comptroller if there is a vacancy in one of those two offices. It does two things. First, it ensures that if a vacancy occurs early enough in a four-year term, voters will get the chance to elect a new AG or comptroller in a special election held concurrently with a presidential election. That gives voters a say in who holds a statewide office without the problems of expense and low turnout associated with off-year elections. Second, the amendment requires that the governor make an interim appointment for either office of someone from the same party as the person who left office. Currently, the governor could replace a Democrat with a Republican or vice versa. The legislature made a corresponding change in how U.S. senators are replaced, but because the rules for replacing an attorney general or comptroller are laid out in the state constitution, this change requires voter approval. We recommend a vote for Question 1.
Anne Arundel ballot questions
Question A eliminates the requirement to update the county code every 10 years. It is now updated continually as new laws are passed, so the rule is unnecessary. We recommend a vote for Question A.
Question B speeds up the effective date for appropriations made after the annual budget is enacted. It allows more flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances during a fiscal year. We recommend a vote for Question B.
Question C would allow the county to avoid competitive bidding on contracts for goods or services expected to cost $100,000 or less. The current threshold is $25,000. Though the change would allow many contracts to be executed more quickly, it would put Arundel out of line with other Baltimore-area counties and could lead to higher prices, lower competition and less transparency for government contracts. We recommend a vote against Question C.
Question D would require the county executive to hold two public hearings before he or she introduces the annual budget bill. We see no downside to requiring the executive to hear from the taxpayers whose money he or she is proposing to spend. We recommend a vote for Question D.
Question E changes the title of the county’s economic development chief. It’s a bit of legislative housekeeping. We recommend a vote for Question E.
Question F will allow the county to appropriate funds for capital projects immediately when a new budget year starts. Due to quirks of the council calendar and the legislative process, such projects are now delayed for as long as six months. We recommend a vote for Question F.
Baltimore City ballot questions
Questions A-D are routine borrowing for affordable housing Hillary Clinton’s experience, temperament, values and dedication make her the clear choice for president. efforts, school construction and renovation, parks and recreation facilities and economic development efforts. They are backed by the full faith and credit of the city and are not to be confused with tax increment financing bonds like those recently authorized for the Port Covington development. We recommend a vote for questions A-D.
Question E calls for three cents of every $100 in assessed value in the city to be placed in the Children and Youth Fund — currently the equivalent of about $11 million a year. That would come on top of the hundreds of millions the city already spends on education, before- and after-school programs and recreation. We object on principle to mandating an arbitrary level of spending for any cause, no matter how worthwhile. When the city is in budget trouble (as occurs frequently), this requirement would force cuts from other needs regardless of the relative merits of the programs this amendment funds. We recommend a vote against Question E.
Question H would allow the creation of small, limited-service, seasonal outdoor cafes in the Inner Harbor near the sand volleyball courts on Rash Field and the Sondheim Fountain. Such an amenity wouldn’t compete meaningfully with existing businesses but would encourage visitors to spend more time at the harbor. We recommend a vote for Question H.
Question I improves on a 2012 charter amendment requiring regular city agency audits. It makes the audits more frequent and more independent by moving them completely under the auspices of the comptroller rather than the Department of Finance. It also includes measures to make the process more transparent and responsive to residents’ concerns. We recommend a vote for Question I.
Question J also creates a dedicated fund in city government, this time for affordable housing, but with the key difference that it does not mandate a particular amount or source of funding. It simply sets up an account where the city can deposit tax dollars, grants, donations or other revenues for use in promoting affordable housing. Hundreds of other local jurisdictions have such funds, including Montgomery and Howard counties, and they have been effective in ensuring the availability of safe housing for low-income residents in a way Baltimore’s current, toothless affordable housing statute doesn’t. We recommend a vote for Question J.
Baltimore County ballot questions
Question A would require the county to create a charter review commission in the seventh year of each decade. Other counties have regular reviews of their charters to ensure they continue to meet residents’ needs, but Baltimore County hasn’t done it since 1989. We recommend a vote for Question A.
Questions B-J are routine borrowing for school construction, parks and recreation facilities, stormwater management projects and the like. We recommend a vote for Questions B-J.
Question K deals with zoning related to a proposed outlet mall in White Marsh. Though it remains on the ballot, it has been rendered a moot point by subsequent legislation. We recommend a vote against Question K on the grounds that it represented bad legislative process, but it doesn’t really matter either way.
Howard County ballot questions
Question A would create the option for future County Council and executive candidates to finance their campaigns publicly rather than by relying on big donors — which in the case of local government typically means real estate developers. Details of how it would work and how it would be financed remain to be determined, but it holds the promise of ensuring that local leaders are beholden to no one but the voters. We recommend a vote for Question A.
Question B provides a small margin of additional flexibility for the County Council in the budget process. Currently, when the council cuts from the executive’s budget, it can only direct the funds to the school system or to a property tax cut. This amendment would also allow members to dedicate the funds to the county’s pension system or to a reserve fund. Werecommend a vote for Question B.