The Baltimore Sun posted a letter to the editor from Scott Hall that is well worth reading. Mr. Hall built the case against Councilwoman Vicki Almond’s candidacy for Baltimore County Executive thoughtfully and methodically. The letter was hard-hitting, but fair and accurate. My hat is off to Mr. Hall for having the guts to write it.
Ms. Almond has no significant business or professional experience – or education or training – to shape our expectations of how she might approach the job of county executive. Experience as a community or education activist may be adequate preparation for membership on the County Council, but it has little bearing on the skills necessary to be a successful county executive of a major county.
Because of her thin resume, we must judge Ms. Almond’s candidacy on her performance on the county council. As detailed by Mr. Hall, Ms. Almond’s record is largely one of voting in lock-step with the interests of builders and developers in the county. She became increasingly loyal to those interests as the 2018 election approached, undoubtedly because she wanted to secure the support of the oligarchy for her campaign to be county executive.
Indeed, Ms. Almond secured the support of the oligarchs in a very, very big way. Another must-read piece is the story written by Mark Reutter for the Baltimore Brew. Do you believe that the movers and shakers would have gone all in for Ms. Almond like they have with loads of money, and shameless and dishonest attack ads, if they weren’t confident that she would remain loyal to their interests? Do you think that they expect nothing in return?
There are two highly qualified candidates running against Ms. Almond in the primary that offer Democratic voters responsible options. Johnny Olszewski, Jr. is the more “progressive” candidate with his strong advocacy of the HOME Act and affordable housing, and his willingness to consider the imposition of development impact fees.
State Senator Jim Brochin is more of a centrist and has made dismantling the pay-to-play culture in county government the centerpiece of his campaign. According to a poll taken several weeks ago, he is the clear front-runner in the race – and therefore the primary target for the attack ads paid for by Ms. Almond’s rich and powerful friends.
Even Ms. Almond’s campaign strategy has been insulting to the intelligence of Baltimore County voters. As described by the Sun in its endorsement of Mr. Olszewski, Ms. Almond “hasn’t articulated much sense of what’s broken much less how to fix it” during her campaign. The editorial board added that “her insistence, for example, that developers don’t wield outsize influence over county government is mind-boggling.” Mind-boggling and ominous.
In other words, Ms. Almond has said little or nothing of substance during her campaign and is relying on the attack ads financed by her sponsors to prevail over her opponents. How uplifting. The conclusion is inescapable that wealthy developers and their lawyers are supporting such a mediocre candidate because they believe that she would make the perfect pawn. Based on her track record as described by Mr. Hall, they probably are right.
And now for the mendacity. Ms. Almond and her developer buddies are targeting Mr. Brochin for his record on gun control and his past (and I emphasize past) support from the NRA. Not only do the ads deliberately misrepresent Mr. Brochin’s current position on gun control, they concern an issue in which a county executive plays no meaningful role.
Meaningful gun control is done at the state and federal level, not the local level.
Effective gun control involves controls at the points of manufacture, sale or other distribution, and licenses to purchase or possess firearms, matters over which a county has no legislative authority. Ms. Almond, if you want to do something meaningful about gun control, run for the General Assembly, not for County Executive.
Democrats have a clear choice on Tuesday. There are two qualified candidates who have pledged to move Baltimore County into the sunlight and toward a governing culture in which the needs of communities and ordinary citizens are given more consideration than the special interests that have dominated Baltimore County for decades and that have mortgaged the county’s future to serve themselves.
Then there is Vicki Almond, who believes that the status quo is fine and unapologetically represents what the Sun described as “politics as usual” in Baltimore County. We are all counting on the good judgment and common sense of Baltimore County voters to make the right decision.