Baltimore County District 5 is currently represented by Vincent Gardina. Gardina is a conservative Democrat who has gained a ridiculous pension before deciding to retire after his multiple terms. Against Gardina, it would be a difficult race - but in an open seat anything can happen. The Democrats nominated commercial insurance broker Mike Ertel. He's a Teacher's Union endorsed candidate who has a platform filled with increased spending. On the Republican side, we have David Marks, a community activist and former Department of Transportation official. Marks is exactly the kind of candidate who can win in this district.
In 2006, the incumbent, Vincent Gardina won by a 10% margin which considering the length of time he's been in office (long enough to get his full salary as his pension) that's a close margin. As an open seat, this becomes a battleground district in Baltimore County. I feel the GOP has the right candidate for the job in David marks
Marks has worked heavily in the transportation field, specifically in the Maryland State Highway Administration, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, and from 2003 to 2007, he was the Chief of Staff at the Maryland Department of Transportation. Prior to that, Marks received his Masters in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. His activity in the community is apparent - he was elected 9 times as President of the Perry Hall Improvement Association. His website has the list of additional community organizations that he's been involved in - it's an impressive background in service. Marks brings a solid background to the table and that's not all.
On the issues front - Marks is right on the money. I did an interview with him in early September. When asked about what the most important issues facing the county - Marks said the following:
The most immediate challenge is steering Baltimore County through the end of the national recession in a way that avoids raising taxes and making cutbacks to critical services, especially public safety. Over the next two or three years when funding is limited, the county should concentrate on initiatives that require relatively little money but set the stage for future progress and economic growth. My three priorities during this time will include:
• Reforming county government to make it more accessible, transparent, and bipartisan. Many citizens have lost confidence in their elected officials, and the County Council can implement several relatively inexpensive policies that instill a greater sense of public confidence in the governing process. These include moving work sessions to a more convenient time, requiring nighttime hearings for major developments, eliminating perks for County Councilmembers, and appointing qualified men and women of both political parties to boards and commissions.• Strengthening our neighborhoods. Baltimore County’s police do an outstanding job, and I will support giving our law enforcement officials the tools they need to maintain public safety. There are other ways to strengthen our neighborhoods as well. All county agencies must work to enhance public safety and support the efforts of the Baltimore County Police Department. There must be a stronger emphasis on code enforcement, on addressing basic quality of life concerns, and on the redevelopment of aging commercial areas throughout the district.
• Planning for the future. Baltimore County’s leaders must develop benchmarks for spending revenue wisely once the county emerges from the recession. I believe there should be two capital priorities—school modernization and transportation.
On pension reform, Marks said, "I support a 401K style pension system, and don’t think the Kamenetz bill went far enough." On transparency and government efficiency, Marks said, "I would such moving legislative work sessions to a more convenient time (they are currently held on Tuesday afternoons); requiring nighttime hearings for developments of a certain size; reforming County Council pensions; amending the county charter to establish a three term limit for Councilmembers; eliminating county cars for Councilmembers; and amending the county charter to create an independently elected Auditor."
Marks is a solid candidate with great ideas and a great platform. The opposition is going to be difficult, Ertel has a moderate sounding platform which could be appealing to voters in a currently Democratic leaning district. But, it's 2010 and an open seat - anything can happen and with Marks as our nominee, we can win. If you'd like to learn more - check out his website and please, consider a donation to his campaign.
This is the second in a series of articles spotlighting races in Baltimore County. All politics are local - let us not forget the important local races. Check out my previous article on Ken Holt for County Executive.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant