The Growth Action Network is proud to have supported Anne Arundel County’s new Public Campaign Financing Bill, passed by the County Council on June 5th, 2023. This is a basic tenet of good government: allow people to run for office without having personal wealth or corporate sponsorship. It is how your money can go directly to support candidates who reject big money from big donors, and run their campaigns based on small donor, citizen support.
Bill 25-23 gets the money out of politics and lets the voters in.
Until this bill passed, Anne Arundel was the only county in central Maryland and the largest county in the state without public campaign financing; this bill would correct that. Montgomery’s system has been in place since 2014 and has been used by numerous candidates, including the County Executive there twice. In addition, Howard, PG, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City have all adopted similar bills and have had good results.
This is a way in which ordinary citizens who hustle and organize can have a voice -- not a huge voice, but a modest voice -- in the political process. Wealthy candidates will always have an advantage, but this bill at least gets less wealthy, underrepresented, and diverse candidates into the conversation and potentially at the table.
We know of several upstart candidates who tried to operate grass roots candidacies, but who were greatly outraised and outgunned by support from commercial and development interests who will have business before the council. They had no chance in the money wars. Hustle was not enough, they needed more money. This bill won’t solve all of those problems, but we like that it gives a fighting chance to candidates who have a base of support and can hustle.
If the business of government is to make better government, this bill is a small, but significant antidote to the outsized role that commercial interests play in county politics.
GAN is pleased to stand with Common Cause of Maryland, the Anne Arundel County League of Women Voters, Maryland Public Interest Research Group, and many other civic organizations in proudly supporting this bill.
It did not pass unanimously, but nor was it contested. The bill's passage was due in large part to your support, and your contact with your county counil members.
It is a HUGE victory for the good government. Thanks to the Pittman administration for introducing the bill and to all those who testified and wrote in your support for the bill, and to the four council members who voted to approve it.
Here is the final bill, as approved, including amendments made at the last Council session: https://www.aacounty.org/departments/county-council/legislation/bills-and-resolutions/25-23
And here is the GAN testimony in support of the bill at the Council meeting on May 15th: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWoqDvby8Tk&t=6927s