A Representative for All of Harford County
I’m running to represent the citizens of Harford as a member of the Harford County Council. Harford County has experienced a decline in new commercial permits over the last two years. Although new development projects and growth has been stagnant, the county is in a position to truly test the motto as “Maryland’s New Center of Opportunity.” Council members are elected by district and must reside in the council district they represent. Subsequently, it takes four affirmative votes to pass legislation through the council, meaning council members will be voting on legislation affecting issues in and outside of their respective districts. As the future council member representing Council District E, I understand and embrace the responsibility that I will be representing all the citizens of Harford County.
I view economic development as a practice or a theory-based approach to improving the quality of life through innovated ideas and vision in the areas of business growth, zoning and land-use, transportation, housing and employment. The Rt. 40 corridor is a major commercial area located within the Development Envelope. The redevelopment of the corridor is vital to future economic and business growth in Harford County. To spur interest and investment in the redevelopment of the Rt. 40 corridor the public sector (government) will need to have vision, flexibility and creative incentive packages. With my current government and private sector experience I believe I have the insight and relationships to drive these projects forward.
I will work diligently with the Council to Support these Initiatives:
- Create progressive financial assistance packages for commercial/mixed-use projects located within the development envelope with an emphasis on areas below Interstate 95. The assistance package can be in the form of locally created tax credits to offset cost and spark redevelopment projects that will transform communities. The awarding of the local tax credits will be tied to new employment opportunities and the projects ability to expand the county’s tax base.
- Reduce or eliminate water hookup fees for a specified period of time to spur interest in redevelopment projects and create new jobs.
- Reduce or eliminate sewer hookup fees for a specified period of time to spur interest in redevelopment projects and create new jobs.
- Reduce or eliminate impact fees for a specified period of time to spur interest in new home building.
- Revise the Adequate Pubic Facilities (APF) ordinance. Eliminate the idea of the first developer in the area paying for all of the road improvements. Road mitigation should be a shared responsibility based on the actual impact to the area observed over a period of time.
- Explore alternative suppliers of water to the City of Aberdeen. Water capacity and affordability is necessary for creating a sustainable future in the City of Aberdeen.
- Continued support for the redevelopment of the Rt. 40 Corridor by implementing the recommendations from the Edgewood Small Area Plan. The Edgewood Small Area Plan is the first step in revitalizing a section of the Rt. 40 Corridor. As the Edgewood area stabilizes the momentum will spread to other areas of the corridor. Full support for the redevelopment of the county government owned land at Washington Court and Nuttal Avenue. Washington Court has great potential for a public, private partnership endeavor with the county government leveraging the property to ensure the viability of the project.
- Continued support for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in the city of Aberdeen. The train station is under-utilized and has the potential to be a multi-use anchor for the city.
- Transportation – Find a solution to the transportation challenges in and around the Harford Community College Campus specifically during peak hours. A dedicated funding stream other than state/federal funding is needed to address transportation and road improvement needs.
- Infrastructure – Construct public water and sewer system for Harford Community College.
- Retain an economist to advise on economic development and tax incentive matters.
Tourism/Hotel Occupancy Tax – Harford County Bill No. 14-035
Revise the current legislation to redefine or eliminate the “tourism and/or tourism related activities” as a qualifier for the Hotel Occupancy Tax Bill. The Hotel Occupancy Tax is levied on consumers irrespective to the reason as to why they are renting a room in a hotel. Harford County Bill No. 14-035 in conjunction with the Harford County tourism grants program administered through The Harford County Economic Development Advisory Board’s Tourism Activity Review Committee (TARC) awards funding to local non-profit organizations promoting cultural and historical activities, museums, eco-tourism and sports tourism. Since 2015, more than 30 organizations have received awards totaling more than $4.5 million for tourism-related activities. Two of the three largest geographical contributors to the Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue received little to no funding for their communities based on the requirements of the existing legislation. Recognizing that areas of the county are not equal based on location, socio-economic status, historical districts, museums, sports complexes, agricultural facilities, water access and government representation the current requirements of the TARC grants places an undue burden on specific communities and forces them into a competitive disadvantage for funding.
I will work to ensure the communities located outside of the municipalities receive a dedicated percentage of the hotel tax collected in their respective areas to be used towards community and economic development improvement projects as well as grants to small businesses for operating and programmatic initiatives. The communities of Joppatowne/Joppa and particularly Edgewood and Riverside/Belcamp are home to a host of hotels and contribute greatly to the generation of the Hotel Occupancy Tax collected in Harford County. Additionally, Visit Harford is the official Destination Marketing Organization for Harford County but doesn’t receive a designated percentage of the hotel tax on an annual basis. I will support a designated percentage of the hotel tax to be annually allocated to the Visit Harford organization.
Continued support for a Harford Community College vocational training satellite campus in or around the Rt. 40 Corridor area.
• Advocate for competitive salaries and consistent pay raises for teachers in order to attract the best and brightest to Harford County.
• I will happily assist in supporting legislation for improving safety in our schools. As a community, we must be proactive in the fight against mass and public shootings particularly on school campuses.
Inclusiveness & Access
I am a strong advocate for inclusiveness, access and diversity. I am committed to listening and bringing fresh ideas to the council and promoting forward-thinking policies in our community. I believe in my heart the only true way for Harford County, and society, to move forward is by having a diverse group of people at the table. We can no longer afford to have one political party and/or one gender making decisions for the whole. As an African American woman and a human being, I am committed to opening doors and creating opportunities for people who haven’t always been a part of the process in the past based on their race, color, religion, gender or sexual preference. As exciting as it is, to possibly be elected the first African American woman to the Harford County Council, I’m even more enthused about potentially representing all of you.