2018 Primary election results

Calvin Ball

Calvin Ball
  • Democrat
  • Age: 42
  • Residence: Columbia

About Calvin Ball

Education

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Religion from Towson State University Master of Arts in Legal and Ethical Studies from University of Baltimore Doctor of Education from Morgan State University

Background

Educator Councilman

Questionnaire

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1
TIFs
What are your views on the use of tax-increment financing as an incentive for private building and redevelopment projects, including remodeling blighted village centers in Columbia?
Ball: I’m dedicated to the success of Columbia and all of its villages. Based upon the information provided to the Council, by the County Executive’s staff regarding Downtown Columbia Tax-Increment Finance (TIF), I thought it prudent to call for an independent evaluation and ask our auditor to look at the data. There was a reasonable case made that without the TIF, we would not have as a high a quality of a downtown without it. Unfortunately, the TIF legislation that was sent to us by our Republican County Executive needed significant strengthening and work. I am also glad that, with my Council Colleagues, we showed leadership by creating an Memorandum of Understanding with the developer and extracted more community benefit. If we have a transparent community conversation about making an investment, via TIF, that will help grow revenue and revitalize neighborhoods, I’m supportive. I have concerns, however, if backroom deals are made without a transparent, open process or if the TIF isn’t really needed. I grew concerned that after the Council passed the much improved legislation, the County Executive unilaterally changed the use of a majority of the money without even discussing it with the public or every member of the Council. That’s not a transparent process and, if the TIF is not needed for what the administration said, then that should have been communicated to the public.
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2
School safety
With rising concern over school safety, should county police officers or sheriff’s deputies be assigned to all public schools, along with additional screening methods, such as metal detectors, student pat-downs and clear backpacks?
Ball: As a father with two children in our public schools, I know we all want our schools to be safe for teaching and learning. We should first evaluate the data to see best practices to ensure safety, then have a public, transparent community conversation about our findings, and finally discuss next steps as well as how those steps fit within all of our priorities. What best practices and types of training should be considered to maximize partnership and success between law enforcement and the school community? We shouldn’t forget the root causes of school safety concerns including the proliferation of guns and the ease by which some young people can access them. We should integrate restorative practices system wide as well as increase pupil personnel workers, school counselors, social workers, school psychologists, health assistants and bus attendants. Those staff additions will make a large impact on ensuring every school is a safe, nurturing place to teach and learn. We also need to take a closer look at class size and makeup. Overcrowded classes with too many students in any given class with increased need, that raises the stress and anxiety level for everyone. We should assess the cost and logistics of the various ways to increase school safety, before they are announced via a press conference. The vision and way forward should be communicated to the community early in the process so that we all have an opportunity to be a part of the solution.
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3
Privatization
Are there any county government services that should be privatized to save money and improve efficiency?
Ball: I think we should do an assessment of what services can be privatized, how well the current services are being delivered, how privatization would impact our community–as far as cost, accountability, quality of services, working conditions for employees, as well as how innovation and creativity are or can be used to ensure that we are the example of what can be. Once all of the information is collected, there should be a discussion with government employees as well as the public so that everyone is able to offer thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. I think we should be fiscally responsible and hold true to our values, including working hard for hard working people. We need to be an example for efficiency and effectiveness as well as compassion and quality working conditions.
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4
Adequate public facilities
Is a provision in the county’s recently adopted Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that allows developers to build affordable housing in areas where a building moratorium is in place a responsible approach?
Ball: While I am a strong proponent of ensuring a full spectrum of affordable housing in our community I have concerns about this recently added provision. First, but for an issue with the calendar, the way the legislation was passed in 2017 would have been law. That legislation was as a result of almost six months of public conversation with the Council and almost two years with the County Executive. Also, the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance was about ensuring adequate public facilities. When we are facing school overcrowding, congested roads, long waits in the emergency room, and other quality of life issues adversely impacted by poor growth management, a last minute amendment in February to allow developers to build more housing where there are insufficient public facilities was something I could not support. That said, the legislation as passed is significantly better than what was filed by our Republican County Executive.
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5
Sanctuary county
Is it appropriate for Howard to be a “sanctuary county” and prohibit county police from reporting detainees in the county detention center to federal authorities?
Ball: Immigration law enforcement is under the purview of the federal government. That cannot and should not be changed via local law. At a time when the President of the United States continues to divide us through his anti-immigrant rhetoric and is not being fiscally responsible with our taxpayer dollars, leading to cuts to important things like education, the arts, and the environment, we should not be taking local dollars to use for immigration enforcement. We need more money for education, to grow the economy, improve our environment, and invest in our infrastructure. I am opposed to racial profiling, which is usually how enforcement begins. I am opposed to policies which increase fear from our neighbors, who may be undocumented or love someone who is undocumented. It is very concerning that while some undocumented residents are afraid to report crime or abuse because of how President Trump is handling the immigration issue, instead of standing up for our County, our Republican County Executive tows the Party line by suggesting that all undocumented immigrants are gang members or somehow dangerous, yet still implements some modified sanctuary county policies. According to the data from numerous reports, the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, a higher percentage than of citizens, actually commit less crime and work harder, using fewer resources, because they do not want to alert anyone to their citizenship status. We should be a place that is compliant with the rule of law, as well as a beacon of compassion, empathy, and justice.
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6
Ellicott City
What efforts, if any, should Howard County take to install more flood-control systems in and around Ellicott City, and how many tax dollars should be involved?
Ball: One of the first battles I had to have with our Republican County Executive was to keep the storm water remediation fee, which ensures millions of dollars to address this issue. He proposed eliminating that revenue source with no realistic funding plan to ensure flood control would be a priority. It’s irresponsible to cut funding to storm water remediation when we need to repair our existing storm water system, increase the number and size of our underground storm water pipes, increase development and capital projects that combine increased storm water capacity and urban design, including in revitalization projects. In fact, we should be investing more in programs like the Restoring the Environment and Developing Youth Program (READY) to create more living wage jobs and meet our storm water management responsibilities. We need to help educate and support retrofitting existing buildings to help mitigate flood damage including expanding flood proofing projects on private property. One of the most important things the next County Executive can do is to work with the Historic Ellicott City Flood Workgroup’s recommendations of funding all Phase I and Phase II mitigation projects as well as ensure FEMA keeps Howard County at the top of their list of priorities!
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7
Opioids
How would you respond to the opiod overdose epidemic? Should Howard expedite construction of an in-patient drug treatment center?
Ball: Drug addiction and the challenges surrounding it are not new. However, with it spreading across every group regardless of where people live, what they look like, how many degrees they have, or how much money they earn, it has grabbed the attention of elected officials at every level. This public health crisis should be addressed by: expanding drug takeback/drop off availability; increased education about medication storage; more naloxone training and distribution, research into better pain management systems and strategies; and improved awareness of addiction to help people recognize the signs and minimize the stigma so that we can all do a better job of helping our neighbors in need. While I am supportive of in-patient treatment, the funding, location, and construction needs should be carefully evaluated before moving forward with a specific plan. We need to always demonstrate our humanity and help remind our neighbors and loved ones who fall victim of this epidemic that there is a way back.
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8
Public transportation
Has the county invested enough in public transportation projects, including the regional bus network and BikeHoward program?
Ball: Howard County should be a model for safely biking, walk, or taking public transportation. Unfortunately, we have one of the worst transportation systems in the region. The lack of focus and investment in public transportation adversely impacts our economic development competitiveness, traffic and road congestion, the ability for people to travel for work or other needed services, and the ability to consider healthier options of travel. We have fallen behind other jurisdictions in Maryland and even in the region in recent years and need to invest much more in public transportation. This is an issue that impacts the health, economics, and quality of life for all of Howard County. If we are serious about ensuring Howard County is the best place to live, work, or play for all and not merely overall, transportation needs to become a priority again.
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9
Taxes
The state is recommending a constant yield property tax rate of 99 cents for the budget year ahead, below the current tax rate. Do you support reducing the tax rate to the constant yield level and adopting zero-based budgeting?
Ball: One of the first things the next County Executive should do is evaluate all taxes and fees. How do we compare with current and aspirational peer counties? Are we managing our revenue stream as effectively as possible to meet our needs and reflect our values? Are there more efficient ways to manage taxpayer dollars? How can we ensure that special interests, like developers, pay their fair share to help make our quality of life excellent? I suspect after that analysis we may find that some taxes and fees residents pay should be lowered. While I definitely do not support raising the constant yield property tax rate at this time, I would need to wait until I review the data from the comprehensive tax and fee evaluation to assess what, how much it should be lowered. As far as Zero Based budgeting, while I strongly support clear, transparent justification for how taxpayer dollars are spent, because of how I believe annual funding should have a certain level of predictability and move forward a vision, I do not support the County implementing a zero-based budgeting scheme.
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