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Brochin: 'I am not a follower of ideology'

State Senator Jim Brochin speaks with voter Ashlea Brown, 40 as she makes her way to the poll at Warren Elementary School (file photo) during his last election campaign in 2014.
State Senator Jim Brochin speaks with voter Ashlea Brown, 40 as she makes her way to the poll at Warren Elementary School (file photo) during his last election campaign in 2014. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun)

For the past 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of representing Baltimore County residents in a district ranging from the Baltimore City line, and as of three years ago, all the way to the Pennsylvania state line. In his op-ed, Pat Murray painted my district in broad, unfavorable strokes, when, in fact, my constituents, like citizens throughout our county, work hard, want safe neighborhoods and good schools (“Jim Brochin’s political conversion,” Nov. 1). I have knocked on their doors and heard their concerns.

Mr. Murray calls me a “conservative Democrat.” But state leaders have sought to misrepresent my work before. I have stood with the Democratic Party on issues because I believe those stances to be in the best interest of our State.

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  • I have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and helped lead the fight to ensure funding for Planned Parenthood;
  • I have a 91 percent pro-environmental record from the League of Conservation Voters including strong support for important environmental initiatives such as Green Buildings, The Healthy Air Act, the ban on fracking, and saving Blackwater Wildlife Refuge;
  • I supported Gov. Martin O’Malley’s landmark gun control law, the most comprehensive in the nation, which bans hundreds of semi-automatic weapons and allows judges to confiscate weapons of those in mental health facilities;
  • I backed the “Walmart bill,” requiring large corporations doing business in our state to provide health care to their employees; and
  • I have been a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ community, including the right of every Marylander to marry whomever they happen to love.

That’s not “conservative” by any definition, and I reject the label. I think Mr. Murray’s intent was to be divisive, and what this county, state and country don’t need is any more party leaders on both sides stoking division.

I am not a follower of ideology. In my 15 years in the legislature, I proudly opposed efforts to raise the sales tax, income tax, gas tax and corporate income tax. In fact, I voted against 38 tax increases — because I did not believe Maryland can tax its way into prosperity. I still don’t.

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Like most people in our county, I judge each issue on its merits. And I vote every time for the best interests of Baltimore County residents. I don’t care what “party leaders” want; they have their own agenda. When an issue reaches the Senate floor, I ask myself the following questions: What’s best for my district, what’s best for Baltimore County, and is this in the best interest of Maryland?

I pride myself on my record of providing outstanding constituent service. My office works hard to correct mistakes, find solutions and provide resolutions for my constituents. That is neither liberal nor conservative, just good politics and my job. I was elected to serve my constituents.

Now I’m running for Baltimore County Executive, and I am again upsetting the status quo by advocating ending the “pay-for-play” system of government in which developers shower politicians with campaign contributions and politicians, in turn, let developers build whatever they want wherever they want. This toxic stream of revenue has fueled the coffers of county politicos for decades and the losers have been our neighborhoods that are over-developed with over-crowded schools, congested roads and a lack of parks and recreation space.

Stopping over-development is neither liberal nor conservative, neither Democratic nor Republican, it is common sense for the common good. We in Baltimore County need to take back control of our county. My vision as the next county executive is for development projects to bolster neighborhoods and revitalize our business corridors, not eliminate much-needed green space.

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Yes, I am a Democrat, my record proves it. Mr. Murray is wrong in his assumptions about me and my county. While he sees Baltimore County in generalities and archetypes, I have been knocking on doors throughout this county. Every neighborhood has a story, and I am listening because my job as county executive will be to empower every community to develop its priorities, not the party bosses and certainly not the developers.

Jim Brochin, Towson

The writer, a Democrat, represents District 42 in the Maryland Senate and is a candidate for Baltimore County Executive.

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