Baltimore County Announces Fair Election Fund Work Group

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced the Fair Election Fund Work Group, which will make recommendations to the Baltimore County Council on the creation and implementation of a public financing system for County Council and County Executive candidates in the 2026 election cycle.

“The volume of one’s voice should never depend on the size of their wallet. I thank all the members of this group for their help in tackling the influence of special interests in our elections — continuing to bring Baltimore County out of the shadow of Spiro Agnew,” said County Executive Olszewski. “By creating a fair election fund, we will empower a more diverse group of candidates, create a more level playing field, and strengthen our local elections for years to come.”

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Baltimore County voters in 2020 approved a Charter Amendment to make public funds available to candidates for local offices.

Baltimore County will now join the State of Maryland, Baltimore City, and three counties — Montgomery, Howard, and Prince George’s — in offering a public financing option for candidates. In the coming months, the County Council will consider legislation to formally establish a Fair Election Fund System for candidates running in the 2026 election cycle.

According to a press release:

Establishing a Fair Election Fund is a key priority for Olszewski, who has called for a public financing option for local elections before taking office.

In his first month in office, Olszewski announced a package of reforms to improve accountability in County government and strengthen ethical standards, including a proposed charter amendment to create a system for public financing for candidates running for county council and county executive.

To ensure that this legislation reflects best practices in equalizing access to the electoral process, the County Executive has convened the Baltimore County Fair Election Fund Work Group.

Chaired by Baltimore County Council Chairman Julian Jones, the Fair Election Fund Work Group is comprised of a bipartisan group of stakeholders, including:

  • Baltimore County Councilman Chairman Julian Jones, (D-District 4)
  • Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, (R-District 5)
  • Emily Scarr, Director, Maryland PIRG
  • Joanne Antoine, Executive Director, Common Cause Maryland
  • Samay Kindra, Chair, Yes for A! Baltimore County Citizens’ Election Fund
  • Sue Garonzi,  League of Women Voters Baltimore County
  • Eric Washington, Community Member
  • Jessica Klaitman, Community Affairs Director, Office of Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones

The work group’s efforts and recommendations will include:

  • The process by which candidates opt into the Fair Election Fund System and the requirements for candidates who seek to participate
  • Limits and thresholds related to matching fund limits and qualified donors
  • The mechanisms of the Fair Election Fund, including the manner and timing of disbursements to campaign committees
  • The process by which residents can donate to the voluntary contribution subfund of the Fair Election Fund
  • The details involved in standing up the Fair Election Fund Commission, which will be tasked with providing annual recommendations to the County Executive on the appropriations necessary to keep the Fair Election Fund System fully funded.

The first meeting of the Baltimore County Fair Election Fund Work Group will be held via Webex on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at 2:30 p.m. A schedule for future meetings will be available at baltimorecountymd.gov/fairelectionfund.

Visit the Baltimore County website for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore County Voters Appear to Endorse Public Financing Option for Local Offices

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore County Ballot to Include Campaign Public Financing Option

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