Graduate of Baltimore County Public Schools; Fort Garrison Elementary, Pikesville Middle School and Pikesville High School University of North Carolina at Greensboro, BA in Political Science University of Maryland College Park, MA in International Relations with a concentration in Soviet Foreign Policy
State Senator, 42nd legislative district, 2003-2018 Insurance Broker, 2002-Present Adjunct Professor, Towson University, 1994-2010 Political Science instructor, Catonsville Campus, Community College of Baltimore County, 1990-1998
What do you consider the greatest accomplishments and failings of the Kamenetz administration?
Brochin: The greatest accomplishments of the Kamenetz administration were that they recognized the need to update aging schools and infrastructure. His administration spent unprecedented dollars modernizing schools and solving overcapacity issues across the county at the elementary and middle school levels. At the same time, he significantly invested in our aging water and sewer infrastructure. I am most critical of the Kamenetz administration on development issues. The pay-to-play policy of rewarding developers based on political and financial donations was a hallmark of the Kamenetz administration. Projects were often presented to communities as “done deals.” Decisions, negotiations and sales were decided behind closed doors. The Kamenetz administration did not scrutinize development projects based on merit. Time and again communities felt left out of the planning process and surprised by announcements of major projects without community input. In Baltimore County, there are two sets of rules: one for select developers and one for everyone else. In zoning decisions, my administration will prioritize projects based on the impact on communities and what effect these projects have on the environment and open-space. As County Executive, the planning office would be charged with scrutinizing projects for their impact on traffic, school enrollment, and the environment. I will encourage transparent discussions between our County Council, community members, environmentalists and developers. We need sensible development in Baltimore County.
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Does Baltimore County have adequate resources to meet its needs, particularly to renovate or replace aging schools? Do you support increasing the property tax or local income tax?
Brochin: Baltimore County, according to the Spending Affordability Committee report issued in February, will experience debt pressures primarily because of the aggressive school construction campaign. Using a portion of the continued expected surpluses for one-time expenditures along with sensibly planned budgets, we can continue to address overcapacity at the high school level and maintain and modernize our schools. Furthermore, the Kamenetz administration forward funded projects that have not yet received state matching funds. I do not see the need to increase the property tax or the local income tax.
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Do you support Baltimore County's federal housing consent decree? In particular, do you support a prohibition on rental discrimination against those who use federal housing vouchers?
Brochin: I will follow the law and introduce legislation as required. I do not support any legislation that requires Baltimore County landlords or tenants to be at the mercy of the Baltimore City Housing Authority because of the well-publicized corruption and scandals that plagued the Baltimore City Housing Authority. I am committed to providing affordable and fair housing across our County through our Baltimore County Housing Office. For any new large-scale developments in Baltimore County, I would support a percentage of the units being marked for affordable housing. Furthermore, my administration will support an incentive based “Live Where you Work Program” to encourage that our teachers, police officers and firefighters are County residents. I am committed to expanding the Baltimore County Veteran Housing Program, and the Baltimore County HUD Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program.
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Does the county government exercise adequate oversight over the school system?
Brochin: The Board of Education is the primary mechanism for oversight of the Baltimore County Public Schools. As a state Senator, I was the lead sponsor in the Senate of the bill that created an elected school board. I believe that rigorous checks and balances are necessary in the oversight of their schools. By passing this legislation, we have empowered voters to have a say in their school system. As County Executive, I propose having our County auditor review all major school contracts. A second independent review would improve the integrity of the process and help restore public trust in BCPS. I would ask BCPS for a comprehensive 10-year capital construction plan, and a review of scheduled maintenance of existing buildings. The County Executive’s primary role in the support of BCPS is to provide funding. As County Executive I commit to having our schools sufficiently staffed and supporting our teachers, who are the heart of our school system and connect with our students every day. Additionally, I will fund more guidance counselors, social workers, and teaching assistants. I want to invest in and expand the AVID program to give more students opportunity, and expand vocational programs throughout our high schools, as these programs provide employable skills for our graduates. I support community schools that help our most vulnerable students and their families be better prepared to learn with access to social, health and educational services. All of our students deserve to spend their days in safe, healthy and innovative classrooms.
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What role can the county play in assisting in the preservation or revitalization of aging communities?
Brochin: As County Executive, my mission is to showcase the diverse economic possibilities of Baltimore County. It is critical to retain our current employers and their businesses by creating established lines of communication and infrastructure support. We need to retain our current companies and encourage their growth. Our neighborhood downtowns need to be supported to attract restaurants, small businesses, and quality grocery stores and to promote arts and cultural venues. Our suburban corridors like Reisterstown Road, Liberty Road, Security Blvd, Route 40, and Merritt Blvd need to be redeveloped. Our Office of Economic Development needs to offer economic incentives to establish midsize businesses along these routes. I am committed to continuing the Baltimore County Boost Fund that supports small businesses, particularly those owned by minorities, women and veterans. I am committed to revitalizing Trade Point Atlantic. This incredible land site needs to be showcased for innovative commercial use. I will encourage partnerships between our local universities to retain the incredible talent and ideas incubating in these institutions. I will be ever mindful that businesses are attracted to strong communities and high of quality of life amenities. My commitment to developing smart public transportation patterns, creating affordable housing, maintaining our strong schools and educating a career-ready workforce will make us more attractive to future employers. I will collaborate with the private sector, seek State support and financing, and charge my administration with aggressively seeking out commercial partnerships to keep Baltimore County strong.
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How would you characterize the relationship between the Baltimore County police and the communities they serve? Are any reforms necessary?
Brochin: I think the relationship between the Baltimore County police and communities is relatively strong. However, I want to ensure that Baltimore County police are better-staffed and well-trained. A police force is only as good as its incoming cadets. We will invest in recruiting locally and nationally. We will build upon the current tuition reimbursement for all Baltimore County Police officers, and professional staff members. Enhanced education and training makes for better police officers. We will offer incentives to have police officers live in Baltimore County, as living where they work will give officers stronger ties to the communities they serve. I commit to adding 16 additional police officers distributed along the four major corridors of Baltimore County. With these new positions, we will step up foot and bike patrols in downtown business corridors and initiate routine patrols in our neighborhoods. We will support the training of additional Student Resource Officers at all levels of our County schools depending on school size and need. In coordination with BCPS and our police force, we will continue to determine comprehensive security measures for our schools. At our Baltimore County police stations, we will emulate what they do in Anne Arundel County. When someone has a substance abuse issue and is ready for treatment, they can come to a Baltimore County police station and they will be met by a caseworker and get treatment for their addiction. Our incredible Baltimore County police understand that fostering relationships with communities is crucial to ensuring safe neighborhoods.
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Baltimore County was a pioneer in rural land preservation. Do its zoning policies and the Urban-Rural Demarcation Line continue to serve the county's needs?
Brochin: As one of the leading environmental advocates in the Maryland Senate who has previously received the endorsements of the Sierra Club and The League of Conservation voters, I believe preserving and protecting open-space is a fundamental responsibility of good governance. I believe in rigorous land preservation above the Urban-Rural Demarcation Line. We are fortunate that 2⁄3 of our land in Baltimore County remains rural. Our agricultural resources and commerce are an important economic asset of our County. This forward thinking environmental practice allows the focus of our commercial and residential development, and redevelopment, to occur in every council district. Supporting our inner suburbs is vital to Baltimore County’s economic growth. I want to ensure that every neighborhood has green space, parks, and rec fields for the enjoyment of the community. Every neighborhood should have a buffer zone, so traffic from the major corridors does not infringe on our quality of life. Across the Country, and in neighboring counties, park space is being revitalized and designed in creative and purposeful ways. Our administration will be pioneers in re-imagining what our public parks can be.
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Is Baltimore County's support for cultural institutions in Baltimore City too little, too much or just right?
Brochin: Traditionally, the Baltimore County budget spends three million dollars to support arts and cultural institutions in Baltimore City. It is important for Baltimore County that we continue to spend these funds, as we are stronger as a region when we provide our citizens with world-class museums, theaters, symphony, cultural venues and landmarks. Baltimore City provides our County with regional arts and cultural institutions that our students and residents enjoy. My administration will work with Baltimore City to find opportunities to expand our regional partnership. Also, we must spend additional dollars to support the emerging art designations of our Baltimore County communities and foster cultural experiences in Baltimore County. Opportunities to participate and appreciate drama, music and visual arts enrich our students’ education and are a source of community pride. These occasions need to be made available in our recreational centers, main streets, schools and college campuses. The inherent value of culture and arts to our County from our regional partners and our homegrown institutions contribute to our quality of life.
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Is Baltimore County adequately served by mass transit?
Brochin: No, Baltimore County is not adequately served by mass transit. In order for Baltimore County to comprehensively address our mass transit shortage, we need to work with our regional partners to find solutions. My administration would work closely with the MTA and State Department of Transportation to establish additional and convenient bus routes. Also, our current schedules need to be more reliable and efficient. Our residents need direct routes in order to improve their daily routines. Our County is large and residents need the means by which to move around it. Working with Baltimore City on a modified red line project could dramatically help our transportation network. In this effort, I would work closely with the State and Baltimore City to develop a plan. Economic growth in Baltimore County is predicated on the assumption that workers can get to their jobs. Students need to reach their schools and campuses on time. Time spent in long commutes on buses is time spent away from worthwhile pursuits. Also, under my administration, we would include increased and safer bike lanes into our Master Plan. I will prioritize smart transit planning. Future development must scrutinize the impact on traffic and congestion. Fostering livable and sustainable communities is the ultimate goal of my administration.