Candidates discuss issues as primary election approaches
With Primary Elections just a few weeks away, the White Marsh-Cowenton Community Association hosted a tightly-packed community forum where those competing for various local offices worked to gather some last minute votes on June 7.
Heather Patti, the secretary of the association, explained that there are, in total, 49 candidates running for election
to represent the community in various capacities and that the meeting couldn’t accommodate them all. She said the organization sat down reviewed the candidate list and chose “the most popular candidates in the area that had name recognition.”
Republican Al Redmer was the first to discuss his County Executive candidacy, calling his campaign an “outreach of community activity.”
Referencing his current position as the Mar yland Insurance Commissioner, he said he has most executive level experience of any of the other candidates.
“For years, the County has failed to invest in basic infrastructure. But equally as concerning, there is no long-term plan in Baltimore County, there is no multiyear budget to address all of the unmet needs that we have.”
As County Executive, Redmer said he would go around County, working collaboratively with the County Council, legislators and stakeholders in order to identify needs and put together a “wish list” of programs or services that need funding and support. He also said he would create an Office of Inspector General to look at all departments, searching for cost-effective and money-saving solutions.
“We’re never going to add jobs, we’re never going to sustain growth until we fix crime, education, and transportation,” he concluded.
Democrat John Olszewski Jr. said he was the only County Executive candidate advocating for universal prek, free community college, raising the minimum wage, and campaign finance reform.
“I ran for office because I wanted to reverse the decades of decline I saw growing up over in eastern Baltimore County,” he said, referencing growing up in Dundalk.
He called for an investment in infrastructure and people, including $2 billion, to be split with the state, to alleviate overcrowding in schools and funding initiatives to hire more teachers and support personnel for smaller class sizes.
He would also enact a full audit identifying “waste, fraud, abuse, and inefficiencies” in the government and school system and begin development plans for every main street in the County along with creating arts and entertainment districts.
Pat McDonough, Republican, described Baltimore County as a “runaway train going off a bridge.”
“The difference between them [other candidates] and me, is they want to slow that train. I want to stop it,” said McDonough.
To do that, he said he would combat violence and bullying in schools by creating legislation to have the police department take over student conduct enforcement and have them make the final decision on consequences
students will face.
Also on education, he said he would phase out the Common Core curriculum and the STAT program, using the money saved from the latter to build new high schools that would combat overcrowdedness during his first term.
On crime, McDonough called for “zero tolerance” policing that mimicked the New York police department’s model and doubling the number on police centers in the County.
Democrats Jim Brochin and Vicki Almond were both scheduled to appear at the forum but did not show up.
Several candidates vying the House of Delegates, Congress, Board of Education, Baltimore County Circuit Court, and Sheriff positions also were attendance.
The 2018 primary election will be held on Tuesday, June 26, with a general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Residents gathered at the Perry Hall Library to listen to over 20 candidates discuss their campaigns and the issues affecting Baltimore County.