County coun­cil can­di­dates share views at fo­rum

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

There were few points upon which in­cum­bent Sev­enth Dis­trict county coun­cil­man Todd Crandell and chal­lenger Brian Weir dis­agreed dur­ing a can­di­date’s fo­rum ear­lier this month hosted by the Es­sex-Mid­dle River Coun­cil in Bow­ley’s Quar­ters.

Both Crandell, a Repub­li­can, and Weir, a Demo­crat, agreed that com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions were es­sen­tial; that more po­lice of­fi­cers were needed; that Bal­ti­more County should not be a “sanc­tu­ary county” for il­le­gal im­mi­grants; and that open space in the dis­trict needs to be pre­served.

In his clos­ing state­ment, Weir even ad­dressed those who op­pose Crandell and would like to see Weir run a more ag­gres­sive cam­paign.

“Ever yone is ver y crit­i­cal of me for not at­tack­ing our cur­rent coun­cil­man,” Weir said. “But there’s enough neg­a­tiv­ity around. You ei­ther like me for who I am, or you don’t.

“But I’m not go­ing to fight with this man up here. It’s not worth it.”

On the ques­tion of Sec­tion 8 hous­ing be­ing con­cen­trated in the south­east area, how­ever, Weir of­fered a unique solution which Crandell op­posed.

Say­ing the av­er­age Sec­tion 8 voucher was for $1,694 a month (with res­i­dents ex­pected to con­trib­ute another $600 to $700 a month), and many vouch­ers last­ing for 10 years (close to $170,000) or more, Weir sug­gested a bet­ter way to dis­burse the money.

“The big­gest com­plaint about Sec­tion 8 res­i­dents is they don’t care about the prop­erty, they don’t take care of the prop­erty

be­cause they have no pride in it,” Weir said. “[In­stead of giv­ing them money in monthly chunks over a decade or more], to put pride back in peo­ple’s lives, put up that money for clos­ing costs and a down pay­ment, and have the res­i­dents pay a $600-700 mort­gage for 30 years.

“They will be pay­ing for their own home.”

Crandell didn’t agree with

Weir’s pro­posal.

“I would not be in fa­vor of giv­ing peo­ple homes,” he said. “That’s not a very good strat­egy; there’s no value in free.”

Rather, Crandell said he would seek to over­turn the con­sent de­cree signed by Bal­ti­more County dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the late county ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz, which re­quires the county to put aside $30 mil­lion to en­cour­age de­vel­op­ers to build af­ford­able hous­ing in the county.

“In our dis­trict, we have a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of Sec­tion 8 hous­ing,” Crandell said. He wants to over­turn the con­sent de­cree be­cause “the county ex­ec­u­tive signed a le­gal set­tle­ment with­out con­sult­ing any­one about it. We’re go­ing to work through fed­eral courts to look at that set­tle­ment.”

(Repub­li­can county ex­ec­u­tive Al Red­mer has also pledged to work to over­turn the con­sent de­cree, which Demo­cratic county ex­ec­u­tive can­di­date John Ol­szewski Jr. has called a waste of time and money, be­cause the county will lose.)

Asked about how they would ap­proach the is­sue of crime, Crandell men­tioned that crime statis­tics were down com­pared to 2017, while Weir said the statis­tics didn’t tell the en­tire story.

“I’ve been an ad­vo­cate for more po­lice the past four bud­get cy­cles,” Crandell said. “In the Sev­enth Dis­trict, crime is down across the board 15 per­cent ver­sus 2017.

“Vi­o­lent crime in our dis­trict is usu­ally tar­geted and re­lated to the drug trade. Peo­ple aren’t be­ing ran­domly at­tacked or mugged in the street. Opi­oid abuse is driv­ing the theft num­bers in our dis­trict. We need to get our hands around the opi­oid is­sue, which is the pub­lic health cri­sis of our time.”

As men­tioned, Weir found the crime stats mis­lead­ing.

“I’m a firm be­liever we can make num­bers what­ever way we want to make them,” Weir said. “We have very high crime stats. They say no, I dis­agree.”

Ac­cord­ing to Weir, there are 15 po­lice cars pa­trolling the dis­trict at any one time, but “we lose 25 per­cent of them in the morn­ing and af­ter­noon, be­cause they are act­ing as school cross­ing guards.”

Weir said the county needed to hold a job fair for cross­ing guards, in ad­di­tion to re­cruit­ing more po­lice of­fi­cers.

“Bal­ti­more County is bad in its hir­ing prac­tices,” he said. “I know peo­ple who have ap­plied for jobs with the county, and it has taken six months to be pro­cessed.”

The can­di­dates were also asked about pro­posed county leg­is­la­tion that would have given prop­erty tax cred­its to pub­lic safety em­ploy­ees. The leg­is­la­tion was tabled with­out a vote.

Weir said the prop­erty tax credit should be given to pub­lic safety em­ploy­ees, as well as 9-1-1 op­er­a­tors, vet­er­ans, teach­ers and school sys­tem em­ploy­ees.

Crandell sug­gested the county couldn’t af­ford to start spread­ing around prop­erty tax cred­its.

“There were dif­fer­ent nu­ances the county coun­cil could not gain a con­sen­sus on,” Crandell said. “There was an ar­gu­ment in terms of who we were try­ing to give the prop­erty tax credit to.

“There are fis­cal re­al­i­ties the county gov­ern­ment has to face,” Crandell said. “If we start to of­fer prop­erty tax cred­its to ev­ery­one, we have to think about the fis­cal im­pact it will have.”

Another ques­tion sub­mit­ted by the au­di­ence at the fo­rum con­cerned how money was cut from the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion bud­get, and why was the coun­cil only al­lowed to re­move items from the bud­get and not add to it.

Al­low­ing the county coun­cil to place items back in the bud­get that had ear­lier been re­moved “would re­quire a county char­ter change,” Crandell said. “And that would have to go through a ref­er­en­dum to the vot­ers.

“We just cre­ated a county char­ter re­view com­mis­sion, and that was not one of the rec­om­men­da­tions.”

In ref­er­ence to com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions, Weir said he would use as­so­ci­a­tions to iden­tify crime prob­lem ar­eas and then place plain­clothes of­fi­cers and un­marked po­lice cars in those ar­eas.

Crandell noted that his ad­min­is­tra­tion had helped cre­ate or restart five com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions in the dis­trict, and how his of­fice worked with com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tions when he was ap­proached by a de­vel­oper with a pro­posal.

After the end of the main fo­rum, which also fea­tured Sixth Dis­trict can­di­dates Cathy Bevins (the in­cum­bent) and Repub­li­can chal­lenger Ryan Nawrocki, Lib­er­tar­ian Party can­di­date Doug Stan­ley and write-in can­di­date Dave Rader were given a few min­utes to speak.

Rader, who lost the Repub­li­can pri­mar y to Crandell, said he is pur­su­ing a write-in cam­paign in or­der to pub­li­cize is­sues he feels need at­ten­tion.

“I didn’t want to drop out and sup­port a can­di­date I may re­gret sup­port­ing,” he said. “While stay­ing in the race, I can con­tinue to sup­port is­sues I be­lieve are right. And I do be­lieve in mir­a­cles; I will give it every­thing I’ve got.”

PHOTO BY BILL GATES

County coun­cil can­di­dates (from left) Cathy Bevins, Todd Crandell, Ryan Nawrocki and Brian Weir fielded ques­tions dur­ing a can­di­dates fo­rum ear­lier this month in Bow­ley’s Quar­ters.

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