Maryland Voter Guide 2022

2022 Voter Guide: Zach Hands, candidate for Carroll Commissioner District 3

Carroll County Commissioner
District 3

Zach Hands



Westminster, Carroll County

Legislative/Government Affairs Consultant

Loyola University Maryland, B.A. ñ Communications and Political Science '15 UMBC, M.P.P. ñ Public Policy '17

I was a member of the Carroll County Democratic Central Committee from 2014-2018, a campaign manager for Emily Shank's House of Delegates campaign in 2018, and I was a candidate for House of Delegates in District 5 in 2014.

Why are you running for office?

Bringing experienced and balanced leadership to the board of county commissioners is important as the extremes grab hold of so much of our daily political conversation. I am a moderate, both politically and in practice. We need voices of reason and moderation that are focused on getting things done for people in Carroll County. Change is incremental and hard and we need people with the commitment and experience to make it happen. I have been in public service my entire adult life, and there is no greater way to give back to the people of your community than to be a public servant. My experience at every level of government gives me the tools to be a successful county commissioner and to make real progress for the people of my district and our county.

What do you see as the most pressing issue the county faces and how would you address it?

Public Safety. Carroll County continues to face long-term challenges to meet the needs of residents and respond to emergencies efficiently and effectively. It will be something that the next board of commissioners will need to deal with in a significant way. The commissioners should explore improving recruitment and retention for Fire/EMS/police in the county. Competition with neighboring counties makes this an ongoing challenge. Initial steps have been taken by the current board of commissioners to address this issue. I will have good relationships with all stakeholders in the public safety community to ensure honest and open communication that leads to effective outcomes.

What plans do you have to help the county and its businesses successfully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 will be with us for a long time to come. We must continue to follow basic health guidance to protect vulnerable Carroll Countians. However, as the pandemic becomes endemic, we must return to our daily lives. Businesses in Carroll County have bounced back well from the impacts of the pandemic and leaders should focus on getting out the message that Carroll County is open for business. The County should continue to provide health and safety support to address serious outbreaks of the virus that threaten vulnerable residents.

How will you tackle the issue of producing solar energy while preserving quality farmland in the county?

I encourage the county and residents to explore energy-efficient alternatives that improve environmental conditions and to take advantage of existing opportunities to explore placing solar energy generating systems on their property.

What would you do to address broadband access in the most rural parts of the county?

Positive steps have been taken to address this issue recently, including with the county securing grants from the State to bring more residents online. However, a number of people in Carroll County still struggle with access to broadband. I would establish strong relationships with state leaders to bring necessary resources to Carroll County that address broadband gaps being experienced by our residents in rural areas. I would also leverage continued public-private partnerships that seek to keep expanding the fiberoptic network throughout Carroll County in the next several years. Access to the internet and broadband infrastructure is critical for the quality of life of residents and is also critical to economic and residential development in Carroll County that allows us to keep pace with growing neighbors in the region.

What steps should the county government take to address opioid overdoses and deaths?

The county must take steps to limit the number of overdoses and opioid deaths by making naloxone (overdose-reversing drug) abundantly and publicly available via naloxone kits. I would advocate to have these kits placed in high-density overdose areas to address immediate needs. I would want to work closely with local and county police to develop a public safety strategy that addresses the distribution of powerful illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, that are causing a large majority of overdoses in our county. County officials need to be proactive as this issue evolves, keeping pace with the drugs that are causing the biggest problems and the demographics/areas in the county that are being the most impacted.

What role can the county government play to improve education in county schools?

A record amount of funding for the school system is poised to come to the county as a result of the Blueprint for Maryland's Future. Half the county's budget is already slotted to go to our public school system. The commissioners should emphasize that results are important in the requests that the BOE makes to the county for additional funding to once again make CCPS the most high-performing school system in the State. Funding priorities should include increasing teacher salaries to assist with recruiting and keeping high quality teachers, and addressing the significant mental and behavioral health issues that continue to affect both students and staff in our schools. The commissioners should also publicly and loudly set the tone that our school system is a safe and welcoming place for all students, as the board of education has consistently failed to do in recent months.

What efforts does the county need to make to address systemic racism in government services?

We need to be aware of areas where government services are not serving people of color effectively, or are treating any of our residents in disproportionate and negative ways. The commissioners, and all public officials, must be willing to listen to the concerns of our minority residents to address issues immediately and substantively.

What steps must the county take to improve public safety?

1) Accelerate a transition to county-employed Fire and EMS personnel, while bolstering our existing volunteer fire companies 2) Establish a workgroup that puts forward a long-term plan to be competitive in the region in regards to salaries and benefits for police/fire/EMS in Carroll County 3) Continue to address the ongoing drug issues plaguing many of the county's communities, causing an ongoing public health crisis and serving as the genesis of much of the crime taking place in our county.

How is climate change impacting the county and what can be done locally to address the effects?

The impacts of climate change have not been incredibly significant in Carroll. However, County government should partner with municipalities, neighboring counties, and State officials to make sure that appropriate steps are being taken in a cross-functional manner to move forward with environmental policies that move our region towards limiting the impacts of climate change. This has to be a group effort.

Baltimore Sun Media's voter guide allows candidates to provide their background, policy and platforms on issues, in their own words. Any questions or feedback can be sent to, or read more about the questionnaire process here.