Howard County Council member Calvin Ball, in conjunction with the Maryland Association of Counties, is starting a statewide minority caucus for county elected officials.
Ball announced plans Tuesday to launch a steering committee that will shape the goals and organizational structure of the caucus. The first steering committee meeting will be held Aug. 18 at 12:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Convention Center, immediately following the close of the annual MACo conference.
"I think the time has come, as we can see evidence in the rise of minorities in Maryland, to create this caucus and collaboratively advocate for the residents we serve, as well as help support minorities interested in serving in public office," Ball said in a statement. "This caucus is an innovative opportunity to unite and empower people of color to create positive change in communities throughout Maryland, together."
Ball, a Columbia Democrat who is the only minority member of the five-member Howard County Council, received unanimous support from the MACo Board members when he presented his idea for the minority caucus to them this spring.
A primary focus of the caucus will be to encourage elected officials to work together in identifying issues unique to minorities and in addressing those issues.
"This has great potential to improve the service and reward that MACo can deliver to its elected members," MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson said in a statement. "The issues that face minority elected officials can be challenging, and MACo looks forward to fostering this network however we can."
The caucus will also serve as an opportunity for current elected officials to educate minority candidates considering running for local office. According to information provided by Ball, fewer than 25 percent of county elected officials are of minority descent, and many are the only minority on their board or council.
"We look forward to Maryland's Minority County Elected Officials Caucus feeding into the efforts of national minority caucuses to help engage, educate and inspire a larger contingency of minority, elected officials," MACo President Ingrid M. Turner said in a statement.