State Sen. Jim Brochin (D-District 42) says he’s the most independent candidate in the race for Baltimore County Executive, for which he announced his candidacy Thursday. Though that talk won’t score him many points with his opponents, Brochin is confident his approach is just what county voters seek.
“Whether I’m right or wrong,” Brochin said about not seeking re-election for his current seat, “I think there is a higher calling. I think it’s to improve the quality of life for the people in my county.”
If elected, Brochin, 53, of Cockeysville said he has promised to make land-use planning and preservation and community-minded development his top priority.
That’s why Brochin, who is Jewish, said he has framed his run, which he will formally kick off this evening at Towson Manor Park, as “a referendum on over-development.”
“If you think that the county needs more development and more trees taken down and more open space eviscerated, then you need to vote for my opponents,” Brochin said. “But if you believe what I believe, that we can do some development in urban areas that should be based on the project’s merits and not campaign contributions, then I’m your guy. Enough with this pay-to-play system we have in place.”
Brochin is the second candidate to file for the crowded June 26 primary, following former state Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. of Dundalk. County Councilwoman Vicki Almond (D-District 2) of Reisterstown is also weighing a run and has a campaign event scheduled in Owings Mills on Nov. 1.
The Republican primary boasts two candidates in state Del. Pat McDonough, who represents parts of Baltimore and Harford counties, and state insurance commissioner Al Redmer, who is endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan.
They’re all running to claim the county executive seat that will be vacated by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is term-limited. Kamenetz, a Democrat who is Jewish, announced a run for governor last month.
A Pikesville native, Brochin is serving his fourth term in Annapolis representing Towson and parts of northern Baltimore County, having first been elected to his seat in 2002. He feels his centrist views best represent the county electorate, which is 56 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican and 16 percent unaffiliated.
“I honestly think I’m bringing something of value and decency to the county,” Brochin said. “We need a new voice.”
Brochin is socially liberal on many issues, pointing to his support for same-sex marriage, decriminalizing marijuana and banning convicted domestic violence abusers from owning firearms. But he considers himself fiscally conservative.
His positions, at times, have led to political backlash from leaders of his own party, including Kamenetz and former Gov. Martin O’Malley. Acknowledging he emphasizes policy over party affiliation, Brochin says he took great satisfaction when he opposed O’Malley on tax increases and Kamenetz on several hotly contested development decisions in his district.
“I’m here to do what I think is in the best interests of those I represent,” Brochin said. “I’m not just going to vote along party lines for the sake of it if I don’t think that’s what is in the best interest of my constituents.”
Brochin says as the county’s top elected officeholder, he vows to protect green space, build more community centers and parks for recreational uses and “embrace a less congested way of life.” In addition, he would like to see governmental ethics reform, new approaches to assist the homeless population and more programs for public school students transitioning to college or into the workforce.
Brochin noted his years of experience in the senate, saying he’ll leverage the connections he has established in Annapolis to benefit the county. He said he is the only Democrat running who has strong ties with Hogan and that their relationship would bode well for the county if Hogan is re-elected.
“I know this is horrible to say as a Democrat, but I think [Hogan] is doing a pretty good job,” Brochin said with a laugh. “Me and [Hogan] get along really well. I support him when I think he’s right, and I don’t support him when he’s not. He respects me, and I respect him.”