photo of white sign taped onto a brick wall, with a red arrow and the word "voting" in white letters
Photo courtesy of kcivey on Flickr

Baltimore County is looking for people to serve on a commission that will make recommendations about a new system for publicly financing candidates for county council and county executive.

The public finacing system will begin with the 2026 election cycle. It aims to make it easier for more candidates to run for office, particulary individuals who may have faced financial obstacles to campaigning.

The county on Tuesday announced its call for applications to be part of the Fair Election Fund Commission. The applications will remain open until Aug. 31, 2023.

The commission consists of nine members who must be confirmed by the County Council and is responsible for “estimating the amount of funding needed during the upcoming 2026 election cycle and making annual recommendations to the County Executive on the level of appropriations needed in each forthcoming budget.” Members of the commission will serve four-year terms.

The commission will comprise seven individuals — one from each council district, who are nominated by members of the County Council — and two nominated by the County Executive. People must apply in order to be considered. They must be a resident and registered voter in Baltimore County. Additionally, applicants must not be:

  • a candidate for public office in the previous, current, or next election cycle,
  • a chair or treasurer of an open campaign account,
  • an elected or appointed member of a local or state central committee of a political party, and/or;
  • a lobbyist registered with the county or the state.

“Money should never be a barrier to running for office and we are thrilled to take this long-awaited next step to realize Baltimore County’s first-ever Fair Election Fund,” Olszewski said in a statement. “We welcome residents reflective of Baltimore County’s incredible demographic, geographic, and political diversity to apply for this exciting opportunity and help empower a more diverse group of candidates, create a more level playing field, and strengthen our local elections for years to come.”

Olszewski proposed a charter amendment to create a system for public financing for candidates. The charter amendment passed with bipartisan support, and was “overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2020,” according to the press release.

Olszewski then created the Fair Election Fund Work Group to begin work on developing the system, consisting of a bipartisan group led by Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones (D-District 4.)

Jones said in November 2021, “I am looking forward to the implementation of the Fair Election Fund, which will level the playing field and give more citizens an equal opportunity to run for public office.”