Head of citizens' petition drive to run for Howard County Council

The chairperson of a citizens’ group attempting to bring a referendum of Howard County’s comprehensive zoning bill to the ballot next November announced Sunday evening she will be running for a seat on the County Council.

Lisa Markovitz, the owner of a small financial agency in Ellicott City and chairperson of the Citizens Working to Fix Howard County, made the announcement at the Shanty Grille on Route 40, to a room of about 40 supporters.

Markovitz, 49, is running as a Democrat in Councilmanic District 1, currently represented by Democrat Courtney Watson, who’s making a bid for Howard County Executive.

Two other Democrats – Ellicott City businessman Jon Weinstein and former Planning Board chair Dave Grabowski, of Elkridge – have already filed for the seat. Republican Kevin Schmidt, an Ellicott City resident who works in the intelligence field, is also in the running.

Markovitz, whose pale purple posters and business cards billed her as “The People’s Voice,” said she wanted to run to continue her advocacy at a higher level.

“I feel like at this time in my life, I’ve done everything as a private citizen to retain the quality of life in this community that I’ve been blessed to call home for 30 years,” she said.  “And now, I feel like I want to run for public office and do more to make sure that our opportunities are retained.”

For Markovitz, who, in addition to her work with the referendum group, also leads the Normandy Heights Improvement Association and serves as vice president of the Howard County Citizens’ Association, the focus is on making sure infrastructure keeps pace with development in the county.

While soliciting signatures for the referendum petition drive, she said she talked to “so many people in all different walks of life, in all different neighborhoods… [who had] such common concerns.”

Chiefly: “How do we balance the incoming extra density… with maintaining quality of life?

“As a County Councilperson, I would like to do work to make sure it’s a little more balanced in the future,” she said.

Markovitz’s platform includes a proposal to change the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance – an act designed to ensure construction of schools, roads and other amenities keep pace with growth – so that new development in a school district will not be allowed once schools are 100 percent full, instead of the current 115 percent.

Markovitz said adding the lower capacity limit would “prioritize the funding of school expansion… full is full.”

She also said she would support property tax reductions for senior citizens and a flood control fund that would require developers building near Ellicott City’s historic district to contribute to flood mitigation remedies for the area.

Markovitz said she hoped people would look to her previous activism as proof that she would work to deliver on her promises.

“One thing that people have asked me a lot is what differentiates me from other candidates,” she said. “As a nonpolitician, I’m in a unique position where I actually have a record… I have done very specific work that proves that I feel that way, and that I will continue to work that way in the future.”

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