Democratic voters in Baltimore County soon will be making a choice between three political veterans who are running for the party’s nomination for county executive. Early voting begins next week, on June 14.
The hotly contested three-way race is between State Senator Jim Brochin, County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, and former State Delegate Johnny Olszewski Jr.
Brochin said he has a proven track record of helping constituents in his 16 years in office. This past weekend, Brochin got a tour of flooded basements in the Academy Heights neighborhood in Catonsville. The deluge that devastated Ellicott City on Memorial Day weekend also caused county sewer lines to back up in Academy Heights.
Nikya Green told Brochin the sewage poured in through her toilet and the shower.
“Two and a half feet or more of sewage in your basement, you’re talking about you’ve lost everything,” Green said.
Brochin told Green and her neighbors the inadequate sewer lines that backed up are the county’s fault, and if he’s elected executive, he’ll fix them.
Brochin’s senate district includes Towson and Timonium and runs up to the Pennsylvania line. Brochin said he has done things in his district to help constituents, like getting schools renovated and replaced.
“It was doing this kind of stuff,” Brochin said. “It was going out to the neighborhoods in my district, finding out what the problems are, finding out why are schools are overcrowded and then rolling up our sleeves and doing something”
The cornerstone of Brochin’s campaign is stopping overdevelopment by banning developers from giving money to county council members. Brochin calls that pay to play.
“Where the developers give council people campaign contributions and developers get unfettered access to our land and to our open space,” Brochin said.
Councilwoman Almond said Brochin is attacking her integrity.
“When he starts with his pay to play, it makes me crazy,” Almond said.
Almond said there is no quid pro quo between council members and developers.
“Compromise is what I encourage people and developers to do,” Almond said. “But if they can’t come to a decision, I’m the one who has to make it. That’s leadership.”
Almond said her eight years on the council set her apart from Brochin and Olszewski. Almond said they are over-promising because they don’t understand how county government works.
Almond said, “When they say things like ‘I’m going to give the teachers a 20 percent raise.’ Nobody would love to do that more than me. Where are you going to find the money?”
It’s Olszewski who made that promise. Olszewski said he is the progressive candidate in the race and wants to do things like spend $2 billion on school buildings and hire more teachers. Olszewski said spending money on neighborhoods and schools will help the county grow, and that will help pay for his promises.
“We have more residents coming here and our tax base is going to grow also by property values going up,” Olszewski said.
Olszewski also hopes to get more help from the state to pay for school construction and he would look for savings by auditing the county budget.
Olszewski was a teacher for seven years and served nearly nine years representing Eastern Baltimore County in the state house.
So this past weekend he was knocking on doors in Woodlawn, on the west side.
“I’m not as well known here and we believe this is going to be a critical area for us to do well,” Olszewski said.
The west side is considered Almond’s base. Brochin’s senate district lies in the middle. All three have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and are running TV ads.
There has been no public polling in this race, so it’s a guessing game as to who has the advantage, going into the final days of the campaign.