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Baltimore County closer to launching first public financing system for local government candidates

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Posted at 10:54 AM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 10:58:18-04

TOWSON, Md. — A work group tasked with overseeing Baltimore County's first public financing system for local government candidates, made several new rules recommendations on Thursday.

In 2019, the County Council voted in favor of a charter amendment that proposed the public financing system for local elections.

Voters in the county agreed with the measure at the ballot box last year.

The program is now set to launch during the 2026 election cycle.

“Baltimore County residents deserves a Fair Election Fund to help empower a more diverse group of candidates, level the playing field, and strengthen our local elections for years to come,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “I thank all the members of our work group for their commitment to this concept and for developing thoughtful recommendations which will inform our efforts to pass legislation formally establishing a public financing system for Baltimore County elections.”

Here are the group's rules recommendations:

  • Create a maximum individual contribution limit of $250 for candidates participating in the Fair Election Fund system.
  • Require contributors to be Baltimore County residents in order for contributions to qualify towards the threshold required to receive matching funds.
  • For County Executive candidates: set a threshold of at least $40,000 in qualifying contributions from at least 500 contributors before allowing access to matching funds from the Fair Election fund.
  • For County Council candidates: set a threshold of at least $10,000 in qualifying contributions from at least 125 contributors before allowing access to matching funds from the Fair Election fund.
  • For County Executive candidates: place a limit of $750,000 in total matching funds per election.
  • For County Council candidates: place a limit of $80,000 in total matching funds per election.
  • Create a tiered matching fund system to incentivize small dollar contributions for candidates.
  • Set limits for funds that can be contributed directly by the candidate, their spouse, or adult members of their immediate family for candidates participating in the Fair Election Fund system.
  • Establish a Fair Election Fund Commission consisting of county residents who would make recommendations to the County to ensure the Fund is solvent ahead of each election cycle.

In the coming months, the Olszewski administration will introduce legislation based on the Work Group’s recommendations.