Olszewski proposes legislation to create public funding for Baltimore County candidates starting in 2026 election – CBS Baltimore

TOWSON, Maryland (WJZ) – Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Monday announced plans to introduce legislation creating a public funding system for election candidates, starting with the 2026 election cycle.

In 2019, Olszewski proposed a charter amendment to create public funding for applicants as part of a package of ethical reforms.

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Baltimore County Council approved the measure, asking a question about the 2020 poll. Voters approved Question A by a 57% to 43% margin.

“We know that fair and competitive elections are good for democracy, they make our communities stronger,” Olszewski said at a press briefing on Monday. “But for far too many people, the cost of running for office has been far too high and has been far too big of a barrier.”

In March 2021, Olszewski created a task force to study similar campaign finance systems across the country and provide recommendations for establishing one in the county.

By law, council and executive candidates could only contribute $ 12,000 to their own campaigns or receive that amount from immediate family members and spouses.

Individual contributions would be capped at $ 250 and would have to come from Baltimore County residents to meet the threshold and receive matching public funds.

The fund matches contributions in stages to encourage small donations to the grassroots. As the dollar amount of a donation increases, the corresponding amount decreases, Olszewski said.

Council candidates must raise $ 10,000 in contributions from at least 125 donors to receive matching funds, which are limited to $ 80,000 per election.

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Candidates for the county executive must raise $ 40,000 from at least 400 donors, and they are limited to $ 750,000 per election.

Matching funds for the two offices are phased out after the first $ 150 of each contribution, Olszewski said.

The bill also creates a fair election fund commission, made up of nine residents, to ensure that the public campaign fund is solvent before each election cycle.

Seven residents will be appointed by the council – one from each Councilmanic district – and two will be appointed by the county executive. Members would serve four-year terms beginning May 1 of each year following a midterm election.

Olszewski’s legislation will be presented at Monday evening’s board meeting.

Councilor David Marks, a Republican, said public funding will provide a platform for small parties and underfunded candidates, highlighting Gov. Larry Hogan’s long-term victory in 2014 who used public funding.

City Councilor Julian E. Jones Jr., chair of the task force, said the program would give residents more choice and help candidates get their message across to voters.

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“This fund will provide the necessary resources so that citizens can properly hear the candidates’ positions, and then make the right decision, which will allow us to have the best elected officials possible here in Baltimore County, providing the best service to citizens.” , did he declare.

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