Sun Editorial Page Editor Andy Green discusses the endorsement of John Olszewski for Baltimore County Executive. (The Baltimore Sun video)
Here, for your convenience on one page, is the complete list of The Sun’s endorsements in Tuesday’s election. We’ve gotten a handful of reports of candidates claiming falsely to have our endorsement in the general election. If they’re not on this list, they don’t.
Larry Hogan for governor
We have a great deal of admiration for both Gov. Larry Hogan (The Sun’s 2014 Marylander of the Year) and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous (Marylander of the Year 2013). We also have reservations about each of them. We strongly disagreed with Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line light rail project in Baltimore, and we have on a number of other occasions questioned his commitment to the city. As for Mr. Jealous, we have trouble wrapping our minds around the sheer scope and breadth of his agenda — single-payer health care, free college, big raises for teachers and so on — in terms of expense or political plausibility.
In considering the entirety of his record, though, we think Governor Hogan is the right choice. He provides a welcome check and balance to the Democratic General Assembly while showing the ability and inclination to work across party lines on important issues, from criminal justice reform to shoring up Maryland’s health care system. He has established a productive partnership with Mayor Catherine Pugh on fighting Baltimore crime and redeveloping blighted areas of the city, and his work on environmental issues has generally been strong. He has stayed true to his pledge to focus on economic and fiscal issues rather than social hot-buttons, and we share his unqualified commitment to ending the practice of gerrymandering in Maryland.
For Democrats questioning whether they need to use this midterm election to send a message of opposition to President Donald Trump, rest assured that a vote for Hogan is in no way a vote for Mr. Trump. The governor has presented a principled, mature contrast to the bombastic president and has displayed a willingness to stand in public opposition to his party’s leader. Electing Democrats who will criticize Mr. Trump is one thing; electing Republicans who will do so is arguably even more powerful.
Brian Frosh for attorney general
The incumbent Democrat has earned another term for his protection of Maryland consumers and the environment, for his work to establish an organized crime unit in the AG’s office to help local prosecutors with complex, multi-jurisdictional cases, and, yes, his efforts to hold the Trump administration accountable on issues of crucial importance to Marylanders, from clean air to health care to honest governance. He faces a strong challenge from Republican Craig Wolf, but the claim that Mr. Frosh is spending too much time grandstanding against President Trump and not enough fighting Baltimore crime simply does not square with his record.
John A. Olszewski Jr. for Baltimore County executive
Both candidates for Baltimore County executive promise a change in the direction of government in Towson, but Democrat John Olszewski Jr. offers voters the chance for a real breath of fresh air. The former delegate and young father from Dundalk has a clear understanding of Baltimore County’s problems and opportunities, and he has developed a well thought-out platform of ideas in education, economic development, transportation and more.
The overriding theme of his campaign — a promise to bring more openness, inclusiveness and transparency to Baltimore County government — is one that should resonate with voters who have too often been treated as if they were a nuisance. From small things like pushing the County Council to hold work sessions in the evening to big ones like pursuing public financing for local candidates so they won’t be beholden to developers and other special interests, Mr. Olszewski’s platform has county residents at its heart.
His Republican opponent, Al Redmer Jr., offers a wealth of public and private sector experience, but his plan on issue after issue is to make a plan. He doesn’t come close to his opponent in the level of detail he presents to voters about what he would do in office. Perhaps most crucially, Mr. Redmer sometimes touches on the “us vs. them” rhetoric that too long prevented the city and county from recognizing their interconnectedness and stunted efforts at regional cooperation.
Mr. Olszewski offers voters an ideal combination of optimism about the county’s future and realism about its challenges. He’s the leader Baltimore County needs.
Craig Giangrande in District 3
This Frederick-based swing district is now represented by Democratic Sen. Ron Young, but we see an opportunity for fresh leadership from Republican businessman Craig Giangrande. The former police officer has pragmatic, pro-business policy ideas and offers a welcome focus on making sure the investments Maryland is poised to make in increased education funding go toward the best practices the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Education (aka the Kirwan Commission) has established through years of study.
Katherine Klausmeier in District 8
This Perry Hall-area district is Larry Hogan country, but it’s Kathy Klausmeier country, too. The incumbent Democrat is the kind of state senator who shows up at community meetings, school events and the like day after day, year after year, and consequently she has her finger on the pulse of the issues that her constituents care most about, from school safety to prescription drug affordability. Her opponent, Republican Del. Christian Miele is a terrific young leader with a welcome focus on government reform and transparency. But we believe Senator Klausmeier still has a lot to give.
Clarence Lam in District 12
Democratic Del. Clarence Lam is the natural choice to take the Howard and Baltimore county seat long occupied by Sen. Edward Kasemeyer. A physician and preventive care expert, Mr. Lam provides an expertise in health care policy that will prove crucial in the years ahead as Maryland seeks to protect and build on recent policies to reduce the cost of health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange. He easily bests his Republican opponent, businessman Joe Hooe, in his experience and policy acumen on education, the environment and other issues.
Sarah Elfreth in District 30
Democrat Sarah Elfreth is one of the most exciting new candidates on Maryland’s political scene this year. Though she has never sought office before, retiring state Sen. John Astle recruited her to run for his seat, and for good reason. Just 30 years old, she already has extensive experience in public policy through her time working in government affairs for the National Aquarium, in politics through her leadership in the Anne Arundel Young Democrats, and in public service through her time as a student member of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents. As is appropriate for her Annapolis-based district, her top priorities center on protecting the environment and the Chesapeake Bay, but she is also particularly well versed in education policy. Her opponent, former Del. Ron George, is a familiar and deservedly well respected presence in the district, but Ms. Elfreth is its future.
Pam Beidle in District 32
Democratic Del. Pam Beidle has represented District 32 well for years, focusing on constituent service, education and pocketbook issues like prescription drug coverage for state government retirees. Her opponent, Republican County Councilman John Grasso, has a history of making racially or ethnically insensitive remarks and does not have Governor Hogan’s endorsement.
Mary Beth Carozza in District 38
This Lower Shore district is represented by well-liked Incumbent Democratic state Sen. James Mathias, a former Ocean City Mayor. But we believe Republican Del. Mary Beth Carozza is simply a better fit for the district. She has years of experience in government on both the federal and state levels, with particular expertise in homeland security issues. She is also particularly attuned to the toll the opioid overdose epidemic has had on this district, and on the need to provide better career pathways in public schools.
Chris West in District 42
This conservative-leaning district is accustomed to non-partisan leadership from Democratic state Sen. Jim Brochin, and the natural successor to that legacy is Republican Del. Chris West. Whenever there was a need for bi-partisan cooperation on big issues, whether on criminal justice or health care, Delegate West was in the middle of it, helping broker compromises that moved the state forward. He, like Senator Brochin, is pro-business and pro-environment. His Democratic opponent, Robbie Leonard, is a protege of Senator Brochin with a similar passion for retail politics, but Delegate West’s impressive record easily merits elevation to the Senate.
State ballot questions: Yes on both
Two state constitutional amendments appear on this year’s ballot. We recommend a vote for both.
Question 1 is the so-called education “lockbox.” It’s supposed to make good on the promise voters thought they were getting when they approved casino gambling in Maryland that the new funds would to to enhancing support for education, not merely replacing state tax dollars that would otherwise have gone to the schools. There’s less here than meets the eye, but this question — supported by both Democrats and Governor Hogan — would at least set the state on a path toward setting aside money that will be necessary to fund the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations.
Question 2 would allow same-day voter registration on election day. We already have it during early voting, and at least 14 other states and the District of Columbia allow it on election day as well. That includes both blue states (California, Hawaii) and red ones (Idaho, Wyoming), and they have managed to do it without the security issues critics fret about. A half-million Marylanders who are eligible to vote still aren’t registered, and if we can remove a barrier to their participation, we should.
Baltimore City Ballot issues: Yes on most
Questions A, B, C and D are routine bond issues for affordable housing, economic development, schools and rec and parks. Question E would prohibit the city from privatizing its water system. There’s no good evidence that doing so would help consumers, and if that situation eventually changes, voters can reverse the ban through another vote. Question F provides greater authority and independence for Baltimore’s inspector general, a good idea, given the number of audits that have recently turned up mismanagement and worse in city agencies. Question G is somewhat controversial, but we suggest a vote for this measure, recommended by a charter review commission, which would make the head of the city’s Department of Legislative Reference an at-will employee who serves at the pleasure of the mayor, City Council president and comptroller. Question H is perhaps the most important one — it would create a system of voluntary public campaign financing for city elections, which should diminish the influence of special interests in City Hall.
The one we don’t recommend is Question I. It would create an equity fund that the mayor and City Council could use to support various efforts to overcome inequality. We certainly support the intent, but we’d rather wait until the city completes an assessment of whether its practices foster or diminish equity. After that, we can determine the best way to address the issue.
Baltimore County ballot questions: Yes on all
The first several questions are the fruit of a charter review committee. Question A fixes wording issues and makes the charter’s language gender neutral. Question B makes revisions to the stated duties of various officials, generally to match longstanding practice. Question C allows the council to consider bills for 60 days rather than the current maximum of 45. Question D, among other things, formalizes the practice in which re-elected executives must seek council confirmation for any cabinet officials they seek to hold over to their second term. Question E gives the County Council control over pay and benefits for top county officials — a major improvement in transparency. Question F clarifies that the Department of Public Works is responsible for overseeing transportation issues — including bike paths and sidewalks. The remaining questions, G through O, cover routine borrowing. Voters should approve them all.