Candidate Survey: Jim Walsh for Howard County Council, District 5
Office Sought and District
Howard County Council – District 5
B.S., John Carroll University; J.D., University of Toledo College of Law
Attorney – CPA
Howard County Board of Appeals (2007 – 2017); Howard County Charter Review Commission (2011); served as treasurer and otherwise volunteered on numerous campaigns since 1986
Why are you running for office?
I have a combination of legal, accounting, tax and government service experience that makes me uniquely qualified to serve on Howard County Council. Because of term limits, at least four new members (on a Council of five) will be elected to Howard County Council in 2018. Because of my background, I will be “Ready on Day One” to serve effectively.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Ronald Reagan – who led the rebuilding of America after the malaise of the Jimmy Carter era. I graduated from college during the Carter administration, and saw the damage that a weak president could do to a country even as great as America. Reagan gave America a renewed sense of pride, confidence and gratitude for liberty, and in the process bankrupted the Soviet Union despite all the leftist naysayers who mischaracterized him as a reckless warmonger.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Rand vividly described the dystopian society that socialism will produce.
What will be your top priority in elected to this position?
Keeping the lid on County spending, and in turn, taxes.
What is the biggest issue facing your county?
The budget: Because of recent changes in our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), Howard County will be in a fiscal transition for the next 2-3 years. The County will lose some up-front fees from developers in the short-term, but will build a more sustainable revenue base in the mid and long-term. As with many transitions, our APFO transitions will be painful, but necessary. We must be prepared to resist the calls to increase our already-high tax rates even higher, and the predictable complaining that, e.g., schools are facing a $20 million budget cut because they are only getting $30 million more instead of the $50 million more they requested.
What is your position on taxes and spending?
Every government agency needs to re-examine its operations and work in an efficient and cost-effective manner. As one example, I recently attended a County presentation on plans to widen and straighten 1100′ of County road. Three County staff engineers were present to answer the questions presented by about 6 people in attendance. Even if the County had expected more people, certainly two engineers would have been sufficient. Each agency should be required to justify its entire budget, not just its proposed increase, each year. Furthermore, the County should not be funding leftist organizations that turn around and use our own tax money to lobby for their leftist agenda.
What is your position on a county tax cap?
Howard County already has the highest average property tax bill in Maryland, and imposes the highest local income tax rate allowed by law. We are maxed out on our tax burden and our residents cannot afford any tax increases. The only tax revision I would ever support would be a tax shift, i.e., where for public policy reasons we decrease one tax but increase another tax (by the same or lesser amount) to shift a financial burden to the second activity.
What is your position on land use issues?
In our location, we will continue to grow. We need growth to be more predictable and sustainable without outstripping our infrastructure. I supported most of the recent changes to our APFO. Certain provisions, however, should be eliminated or amended by the next Council.
What is your position on public safety?
Our top priority should be assuring the safety of our residents, particularly our school students. I have proposed using best available technology practices in our schools, including reinforced glass and doors, communications systems, alarms, security cameras that can be monitored by police (either on-site or remotely), and other features designed to stop an attacker in their tracks. In order not to increase our already-high tax burden, I have proposed funding such improvements with a new charitable foundation, deductions to which would not be capped (like state and local taxes) for federal income tax purposes by the recent tax law. Such a program could be fully implemented if each household in Howard County contributed $80 per year for five years.
I also strongly oppose sanctuary legislation. No county nor state should have its own foreign policy, and the whole idea of local nullification of federal law was settled by the Civil War. Ironically, sanctuary legislation often serves to protect members of trans-national gangs and human traffickers who prey primarily on illegal immigrants. I see no valid public policy reason for protecting anyone committing such crimes.