Revisiting the heyday of department stores and five-and-dimes

Howard needs Question A

Why not follow Hogan's example and support campaign finance reform in Howard County?

I was very disappointed but not surprised to see that Howard County Executive Alan Kittleman has come out against Question A and that his campaign treasurer is one of the organizers of the opposition ("Howard should nix Question A," Oct. 14). Question A will allow candidates who agree to not accept large contributions to have the ability to campaign successfully by having their small donors' contributions matched with public funds. There are three reasons why such a system is vital to a healthy democracy:

First, it will expand the pool of likely candidates by encouraging those without big money backers that they too can compete. Second, it makes our elected officials less beholden to groups like developer Howard Hughes whose development plans run counter to the wishes of local residents. Third, it makes candidates focus on the needs of their constituents because they can raise enough funds to compete by spending their time working closely with them.

Mr. Kittleman says, "There's no question I support public financing of local campaigns" but then opposes it because we may need to supplement a check-off system with some money out of public funds. You cannot ask candidates to swear off large contributors unless you guarantee that the option of public funding will be available. And you can't make that guarantee without having public funds to back up the check-off. No one knows how many will agree to check-off on their taxes to contribute to the system. So if you are really in favor of public financing of elections, you have to support Question A.

This should not be a partisan issue. Republican Governor Larry Hogan would not have been elected without the use of public funds in Maryland to underwrite his campaign. Once elected, he replenished the public funds into the account to supplement the check-off system. We need the same process in Howard County to fund our future county executive and council candidates. That is why we need to vote "for" Question A.

David Marker, Columbia

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