Appearing together for the first time since winning a primary election last month, candidates for Maryland’s highest state offices presented their vision for the state on Saturday and pledged to work hand-in-hand with leaders locals if elected in November.
Public health emergency management, police body camera footage and tax collection were among the topics discussed at a forum that concluded the Association of Counties of Maryland conference – an annual marathon of four days of seminars, networking and fundraising attended by thousands of local, state and federal government officials in Ocean City.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, whose campaign said he had a scheduling conflict, was the only one of the party’s six leading candidates for governor, attorney general and comptroller who did not participate at the forum. Moore attended on previous days of the conference.
His Republican opponent, Del. Dan Cox, pointed to Moore’s absence in his remarks. He also repeatedly told the audience of elected leaders that he was the only gubernatorial candidate with experience in elected office.
“Unlike my opponent, who isn’t here today, I will show up for you,” Cox said.
While the forum format had Cox and the other candidates answering the same set of questions individually, it was the first chance for the nominees in the race for attorney general – Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Brown and the former Republican County Councilman of Anne Arundel Michael Peroutka – and those for Comptroller – Democrat Del. Brooke Lierman and Republican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman – to appear jointly as their nominees among the voters of their parties.
Cox, a conservative Republican backed by former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly insisted on local control. Asked about emergency response as governor, he said he would “rebuild the code” and “modernize” emergency management laws to rein in executive authority and empower local governments.
He also referenced his long-running feud with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, which he unsuccessfully pursued and attempted to remove from the state’s COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as school closures. businesses. Hogan called Cox “crazy” and doesn’t support his campaign.
“I supported the governor many times, but one area we disagreed on was how emergency powers were used,” Cox said.
Peroutka, like Cox, campaigned primarily on the message that the pandemic measures were unconstitutional. He pointed it out again on Saturday.
“These things were illegal. It doesn’t matter, by the way, what you think of science. Even if you thought – I didn’t think much about the science, personally – but even if you thought the science of it all was perfect, it was still illegal,” Peroutka said.
Brown, without specifically mentioning Peroutka, presented himself as the moderate candidate, rather than one who would fight for the extremes.
“The people of Maryland want us to govern in the middle. They want us to find that common ground, to find that consensus. Marylanders reject extreme governance. They always have. Extreme right or extreme left.
Asked about the increasing use of body-worn cameras by police and the release of the footage to the public, Brown said it was a positive step that builds “trust between the police and the community”. He also said the aim “should be to disclose as much as possible”, although he was unclear when asked how the Public Information Act should be changed to balance different interests, such as the privacy of victims of crime.
Peroutka said he was “not sure” changes needed to be made to the law and that decisions to release footage should take into account that it would hamper police investigations into whether crimes had taken place. been committed.
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Both Glassman and Lierman, candidates for the position of state income tax collection officer, said they would work closely with county leaders to share income tax data. revenue that will allow them to more accurately predict incoming revenue.
Glassman – a two-term county executive, former county councilor and legislator – said his stint in local government makes him more qualified to know what counties need. Facing a statewide election in which he would have to win over some Democratic and independent voters, he stressed he would keep office “nonpartisan.”
“We deserve someone who’s not going to work for special interests, certain parties, but stand up and be a strong independent monitor for everyone,” Glassman said.
Lierman, a two-term delegate from Baltimore, said she wants to be a comptroller “who embraces creative ideas” while talking about her legislative initiatives to modernize the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates website and her plan to bring more transparency in the procurement process on the Public Works Board. The powerful panel, consisting of the comptroller, governor, and state treasurer, approves major state contracts.
“It’s our time in Maryland to be really bold and do better,” she said.
Moore told reporters Friday night at the conference that he was “very” looking forward to a possible debate with Cox.
“The moment people get a chance to hear us together articulate our very different visions of the state and where the state is going, I think more and more people will understand and come on board with us,” he said. Moore said.