Democratic state Sen. Jim Brochin is entering the race to replace Kevin Kamenetz as Baltimore County executive in 2018.
Brochin, currently serving his fourth term in the Maryland Senate, has been rumored to be considering a run for office. He’ll make it official tomorrow at a campaign kickoff event at Towson Manor Park.
In a phone interview, he said developers have gained too much influence in the county by giving money to council members’ and the county executive’s campaign funds, and that is what spurred him to enter the race.
“It corrupts the system. If a development is such a fantastic idea, it should be judged on merits and devoid of contributions,” he said, adding later, “It’s a culture that’s been going on in the county for the last 30 years.”
Some county residents have accused current County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and council members of accepting developer money for their own campaigns or to support candidates on their slate in exchange for favorable decisions on their proposals.
Brochin has opposed development proposals that would remove green space, pushing back against projects like the 16-pump Royal Farms proposal at the corner of Bosley Avenue and York Road and a megachurch that would have been built on Seminary Avenue in Lutherville.
He proposed a bill in the state Senate last year that would have banned developer campaign donations to the county executive or council members. The bill was shot down by Baltimore County’s senate delegation, though Brochin said he would reintroduce it if he’s elected as county executive.
Other issues on his radar include tackling the opioid epidemic and homelessness. He hopes to build a “major treatment center” for opioid users in the county and suggested emulating a program in Columbus, Ohio, that first houses homeless people in apartments before helping them get mental health treatment and other assistance.
Brochin’s only Democratic competition so far is former state Del. John Olszewski Jr. Per the Dundalk Eagle, Olszewski’s platform also includes campaign finance reform, as well as a push to hold council budget sessions more frequently and bring them to other districts outside of Towson.
County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Democrat, is also expected to enter the race.
The Republican side so far includes Del. Pat McDonough and Baltimore County Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer.
Kamenetz will finish his second and final term as county executive next year. He’s already joined the crowded field of Democrats running for governor and was barred from running for re-election due to term limits.