Last night, I had the honor of knocking on doors and meeting voters with Comptroller Peter Franchot. The Comptroller had filed for re-election earlier that day, which made me appreciate him taking the time to come to Ellicott City all the more.
Pragmatic government that looks out for small businesses, protects the middle class, and provides meaningful opportunity for the least fortunate. That's what most people want, but this message is often lost in translation when converting it to law. Under these principles, the "correct" policy is not always clear. How do you help protect wages in a flooded labor market without hurting small businesses? How do you provide for top-flight education, reliable roads, and the environment while keeping taxes low?
One thing I appreciate about the Comptroller is that he doesn't pretend to know all the answers. In between houses, we discussed some of these issues and he said something I've heard over and over from the doors I've knocked on, but never from an elected official - "we need to do more to show people we're listening".
We talked to teachers about pensions. We talked to retirees about the "second careers" in service. We talked to people that were just happy to have a new district for Ellicott City. The Comptroller had detailed fact-based responses for every concern that was raised. Not partisan talking points. Practical government. That is something I believe in and will bring to this new Delegate seat - Straight answers about how the government works and what we can do to make it better. Don't underestimate how powerful to those whose lives are dependent on the decisions made in Annapolis.
I've focused on small businesses throughout this campaign and have spoken with countless small businesses owners. The Comptroller's name comes up a lot. He is not a man above controversy, but I think it is clear that Peter takes on the fights worth fighting for reasons that may not make it into the newspaper. He gets the phone calls. As our state's tax-collector, Peter Franchot is the one that speaks with the small business owner who has figured out they may not be able to stay open due to insufficient margins or a missed tax liability. Pundits can laugh all they want about how the Comptroller's ideology has changed from his time as a Delegate from Takoma Park, but they probably can't imagine what it's like to be the one on the other end of those pleas.
Filers for statewide office don't have to knock on doors. Their campaigns are normally focused more on group meetings, mailers, and speaking events. But I'll tell you, when they do, people really appreciate it. The Ellicott City voters we met last night were thrilled to have Peter at their door-step asking how we can make state government better. That's public service and its great to see someone who still sees door-to-door as part of the job description.
An interesting thing about politics is figuring out who your friends are. Not just the people that wish you a happy birthday on Facebook or saddle up next to you at a public event. Your friends. The people who believe in you, want to see you succeed, and will help you make it happen. For that, I am not only appreciative of having the support of a public servant like the Comptroller, but also the friendship of people like Len, TJ, Bill, Mark, and John who helped make last night a success.
Have a great Friday doing what you love! It's impossible not to.