Letter: Fund Baltimore Fair Elections

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Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Since joining Maryland PIRG in 2013, Emily has won reforms to strengthen our democrarcy, improve public health, and protect consumers.

She has helped lead efforts to establish small donor public financing programs throughout the state and helped update and modernize the small donor public financing program for Maryland candidates for governor. She has worked with partners to enable Election Day voter registration and automatic voter registration in Maryland. She spearheaded efforts to pass the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses, and the George "Walter" Taylor Act to restrict the use and disposal of toxic PFAS "forever chemicals." She lead efforts to pass the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms and the Safe School Drinking Water Act to require testing and remediation for lead in school drinking water.

Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.

Today, the Baltimore Fair Elections Coalition submitted a letter to Mayor Brandon Scott, Council President Nick Mosby, and the Baltimore City Council calling on them to make an  investment of $2.5 million in the FY22 budget for the Fair Election Fund.

The City Council created a Fair Elections Fund and program after voter authorization in 2018. Now, they need to get the program off to a strong financial start. 

To do so, we are encouraging the City to include an investment of $2.5 million in the FY22 budget to the Fair Election Fund and to move quickly to finalize the Fair Elections Commission, as outlined by the City Charter. In order to ensure the program is viable for 2024, it is critically important we finalize the commission and get the program started with a strong first installment of funding.

Thanks to the support of the City Council, Baltimore City took a huge step forward for Fair Elections by passing Council Bill 19-0403. Large campaign contributions, which few Baltimore City residents can afford to make, have too much influence over who can run for office, what issues make it onto the agenda, and who wins. And these big donors aren’t reflective of Baltimore families —they’re wealthier, and they are also far less likely to be women or people of color, and they have starkly different priorities when it comes to public policies.

The role of large donors contributes to an already shrinking faith in government. But small donor public financing programs have proven effective in Maryland and in DC as a way to reduce the role of large donors and increase small donor participation.

The Fair Elections program will amplify the voices of Baltimore working families by encouraging small-dollar donations, and providing matching funds for candidates who abide by stricter ethics and transparency rules, like not taking giant checks from lobbyists, corporations, or PACs. By reducing the role of these large donors we can ensure everyone can have a voice in our elections, regardless of how much money they make.

That's why we are encouraging Mayor Scott and the City Council to lead Baltimore forward by getting this program off to a strong fiscal start in the FY 2022 budget.

Fund Baltimore Fair Elections

For too long, Baltimore's elections have been dominated by large and corporate donors, but things could be different in 2024. 

Please tell Mayor Scott and the City Council: Fund Fair Elections for Baltimore.

Emily Scarr
Maryland PIRG State Director

Author: Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG State Director

(410) 467-9389

Started on staff: 2005
B.A., Vassar College

Emily directs strategy, organizational development, research, communications and legislative advocacy for Maryland PIRG. Since joining Maryland PIRG in 2013, Emily has won reforms to strengthen our democrarcy, improve public health, and protect consumers.

She has helped lead efforts to establish small donor public financing programs throughout the state and helped update and modernize the small donor public financing program for Maryland candidates for governor. She has worked with partners to enable Election Day voter registration and automatic voter registration in Maryland. She spearheaded efforts to pass the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban flame retardants in children's products, furniture and mattresses, and the George "Walter" Taylor Act to restrict the use and disposal of toxic PFAS "forever chemicals." She lead efforts to pass the Maryland Keep Antibiotics Effective Act to protect public health by restricting the use of antibiotics on Maryland farms and the Safe School Drinking Water Act to require testing and remediation for lead in school drinking water.

Emily serves on the Executive Committees of the Maryland Fair Elections Coalition and the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working. She also serves on the Steering Committees for the Maryland Pesticide Action Network and Marylanders for Open Government. Emily lives in Baltimore with her husband, children, and dog.