Fair Election Fund legislation includes recommendations of the Baltimore County Work Group
Baltimore County has moved one step closer to implementing a Fair Election Fund, as voters directed in the November 2020 elections.
Today, Baltimore County Council President Julian Jones introduced legislation creating a small donor public campaign financing option. The bill includes recommendations of the Baltimore County Work Group, and is being filed on behalf of County Executive John “Johnny O” Olszewski.
Last November, voters decisively approved an amendment to the County charter authorizing the program. In recent years, the costs to run for Baltimore County Council and County Executive have dramatically increased. Research shows that public financing programs shift power from wealthy special interest donors to ordinary citizens — helping diverse candidates run and win; those elected officials then pass policies that favor everyday people.
Montgomery, Howard and Prince Georgie’s counties have established similar programs, as have Baltimore City and Washington D.C.
Statement of Morgan Drayton, Policy & Engagement Manager for Common Cause Maryland
We have reached a critical point in our democracy nationwide, having conversations about how we can build a truly inclusive democracy where average everyday people feel empowered enough to engage in our political processes. One of the best ways to achieve that is through small-donor public financing: a program where people from diverse backgrounds are empowered to run for office, where small dollars are amplified with a match, and where candidates spend the bulk of their time building a campaign powered by the people they seek to represent.
It’s so exciting to see Baltimore County on the path to becoming the fifth jurisdiction in the state to establish a public financing program, especially at a time where residents in the County are discussing ways to diversify leadership. The Fair Election Fund will make it possible for more women, Black people, other people of color, and young people to run competitive races as we’ve seen through our existing programs.
Statement of Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr
Large and corporate donors play too big a role in Baltimore County elections, but with the fair elections program things can be different. The County Council should move swiftly to finalize this program so candidates for office can spend more time building support in communities instead of chasing big checks from wealthy donors and special interests.
Cheers to County Executive Olszewski, Council President Jones, and Councilman Marks for their hard work on this bill. Maryland PIRG is thrilled to continue working with the Baltimore County Council and community leaders to finalize the Fair Election program to reduce the influence of big money, helping build a stronger democracy in Baltimore County.
Statement of Samay Kindra, chair of the Question A Ballot Committee
The proposed bill represents the Fair Election Work Group’s thorough conversations and deliberations over the past several months. The proposed fund will allow everyone, no matter their race, gender, or income to have equal opportunity in both running for local office and supporting local candidates. I’m excited to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition as we finalize the Fair Election program.