Here are some of our stances on some of the most important issues in Howard County, and what we’d like to see from our Howard County Democratic elected officials and candidates:
Many HoCo 4 Us Slate members have long been dedicated to combating the influence of corporate money in politics and the Democratic Party, as we feel that it corrupts the decision and policy-making process. Much of our advocacy on this issue at the state and national level has focused on Big Pharma, private health insurance companies, fossil fuel companies, etc. However, here at the local level in Howard County, it is largely one single industry donating to our local elected officials and candidates and corrupting the process: the developer industry. In fact, this issue is so pervasive in the County, that many HoCo 4 Us Slate members helped launch a No Developer Donation Campaign Pledge for candidates in the 2022 Howard County elections to take! The HoCo 4 Us Slate will not be taking any developer or corporate donations, and plan to encourage local Democratic elected officials and candidates to not do so, either.
Strong Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) regulations are the main protection to ensure our public infrastructure such as our schools, roads, hospitals, and more do not become overburdened or overcrowded. Every year, developer interests pour thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of our elected officials, with the deliberate attempt to water down APFO, so that they can continue to over-develop without regard for the state of our Public Facilities and Infrastructure. Our quality public schools are the main reason many people move to Howard County to start families, so if we do not start strengthening APFO to actually make it effective, we will continue to overcrowd and underfund the school system, destroying the quality of the very thing that is our County’s main draw.
Too often, developers, elected officials that take their money, and/or so-called community advocates claim to be in favor of affordable housing, yet when it comes to actually building them, do everything they can to wiggle out of it. It is time we stop offering developers an option to not build affordable housing, including by eliminating the ridiculously low fee-in-lieu option that allows developers to pay a small fee instead of building affordable housing units. If we are really serious about addressing the affordable housing crisis in Howard County, it means MANDATING developers build affordable housing – as a part of every project!
- We’ve seen from the example of the recent catastrophic floods in Old Ellicott City what the deadly consequences of prioritizing developer profits over protecting the delicate natural environment and ecosystem can be. Nonetheless, due in large part to developer donations, development in that part of the County continues, and we see strong forest preservation bills get killed, while watered down ones are passed instead. It is not enough for Democrats to just say they care about the environment – they must act like it, too, or be held accountable when they don’t.
- The TIF (Tax Incremental Funding) in downtown Columbia is unfortunately just one example of profit-driven developer projects that have been financed by the taxpayers of this county. This kind of financing should not happen on the shoulders of the working people of Howard County all to create windfalls for profit-driven entities.