Maryland statewide candidates speak at county conference

OCEAN CITY, Md. (AP) — Candidates for statewide offices in Maryland addressed a conference sponsored by the Maryland Association of Counties on Saturday in Ocean City, where they pledged to work with local leaders.

The Baltimore Sun reports that public health emergency management, police body-camera footage and tax collection were among the topics discussed.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore, whose campaign said he had a scheduling conflict, was the only one of the six major party nominees for governor, attorney general and comptroller who didn’t participate. Moore attended previous days of the conference.

Del. Dan Cox, Moore‘s Republican opponent, noted Moore’s absence in his remarks. He also told the audience of elected leaders that he is the only candidate for governor who has experience in elected office.

Cox, a conservative Republican endorsed by former President Donald Trump, emphasized local control. Asked about responding to emergencies, he said he would “reconstruct the code” and “modernize” emergency management laws to rein in executive authority and put more power with local governments.

The forum was the first chance for the nominees in the attorney general race – Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown and former Republican Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka – and those for comptroller – Democratic Del. Brooke Lierman and Republican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman – to appear jointly as the nominees of their parties’ voters.

Peroutka has, like Cox, run his campaign primarily on the message that the pandemic measures were not constitutional.

“These things were unlawful. It doesn’t matter, by the way, what you thought of the science. Even if you thought – I didn’t think much of the science, personally – but even if you thought the science of all this was perfect, it was still unlawful,” Peroutka said.

Brown, while not specifically mentioning Peroutka, pitched himself as the moderate candidate.

“Marylanders want us to govern in the middle,” Brown said. “They want us to find that common ground, to find that consensus. Marylanders reject extreme governance. They always have. Extreme to the right, or extreme to the left.”

Glassman and Lierman both said they would work closely with county leaders to share data on income taxes that will allow them to more accurately predict incoming revenue.

Glassman said his time in local government makes him more qualified to know what counties need. Facing a statewide election in which he would need to win over some Democratic and independent voters, he stressed he would keep the office “nonpartisan.”

“We deserve someone that’s not going to work for special interests, certain parties, but stand up and be a strong independent comptroller for everyone,” Glassman, a two-term Harford County executive, former county councilman and legislator, said.

Lierman said she wants to be a comptroller “who embraces creative ideas” while talking about her legislative initiatives to modernize the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates website and her plan to bring more transparency to the contracting process on the Board of Public Works.

“It’s our time in Maryland to really be bold and to do better,” said Lierman, who is a two-term delegate from Baltimore.

Moore told reporters Friday night at the conference that he was “very much” looking forward to an eventual debate with Cox.

“The moment that people get a chance to hear us together articulate our vastly different visions for the state and where the state’s going to go, I think more and more people will understand and will come on to our side,” Moore said.

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