BY EMMETT GARTNER
BALTIMORE— Baltimore City Del. Brooke Lierman, a civil rights attorney and longtime activist, declared victory in the race for comptroller Tuesday night. If Leirman wins, she will become the first woman elected to the position in Maryland’s history.
As of 11:00 p.m. Tuesday, Lierman led with 57% of the vote to Republican Barry Glassman 43% with just more than half of the vote, 1,383,473, counted.
The two-term Democratic delegate for the city’s southern district told hundreds squeezed into a ballroom at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, “We fought the good fight.”
“Thank you to the grandmas, to the mothers, to the daughters who said it’s time for a woman to run the money in Maryland,” Lierman said to roaring applause from her supporters.
She then went on to recognize prominent women politicians in Maryland that preceded her, saying that it was their shoulders she stood on to get elected.
“I may be the first, but I am going to make sure that I am not the last,” Lierman shouted.
Glassman, currently in his second term as the Harford County executive officer and a former member of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, had not conceded late Tuesday night.
Glassman, who ran as a centrist, was the only Republican candidate to receive an endorsement from state party leader Gov. Larry Hogan, who remains popular with Democratic, Republican and Independent voters.
The state comptroller acts as the state’s chief financial officer and serves as the primary liaison between Maryland taxpayers and state government; handling tax collection and the distribution of tax refunds to Maryland residents. Lierman will oversee around $16 billion annually in state tax revenue and manage an agency with a $110 million budget and 1,100 employees. She assumes office with a $2 billion budget surplus.
The comptroller, the governor and the treasurer constitute the powerful Board of Public Works, which approves all state contracts valued at over $200,000 and all transactions involving state property.
The comptroller also serves on the state pension system’s board of trustees.
Lierman promised that as comptroller, she will create a commission to study possible lasting impacts of racial discrimination in real estate and housing redlining, a decades-old federal housing policy that devalued homes in Black communities.
She passed legislation to accomplish similar goals as a delegate.
“The comptroller’s office has the general superintendence of the fiscal affairs of Maryland,” Lierman said in an interview with Capital News Service.
“And that means ensuring that we are focusing on big economic challenges, like closing the racial wealth divide and preparing the state for the infrastructural challenges that climate change will bring.”
Lierman said as comptroller she will make the office more responsive to the needs of small business owners through the creation of a Small Business Portal that tracks tax payments and related finances.
She said she will also ensure that Maryland residents eligible for tax credits, particularly families and seniors, are receiving them. One way to do so, she said, is by modernizing the office’s technology and creating online portals for taxpayers to access the office’s services.
Lierman also said she will prioritize financial literacy programs that increase opportunities for Maryland residents to receive housing counseling from the comptroller’s office.
“I hope to make Maryland a state where the comptroller’s office is focused on helping families build financial resilience and making Maryland the best state in the nation to be an entrepreneur and to start a business,” she said.
Lierman works as a civil rights and disability rights attorney for the Baltimore law firm Brown, Goldstein and Levy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College in 2001 and a law degree in 2008 from the University of Texas, Austin, where she graduated cum laude.
Lierman was elected to the House of Delegates in 2014. She served on the Appropriations Committee between 2015 and 2019. She currently sits on the Environment and Transportation Committee as chair of the land use and ethics subcommittee.
Lierman points to a few noteworthy achievements as a delegate that overlap with her platform as comptroller.
During her time as the chair of the Special Joint Committee on Pensions, she sponsored successful legislation that requires Maryland’s pension system to consider the threat of climate change in the pension’s investments, emphasize the divestment of fossil fuels and encourage investments in green and renewable energy.
As comptroller, Lierman would serve on the pension system’s board of trustees and promises to take a similar approach in monitoring the fund’s investments and to advocate for transparency on how the state invests its money.
“I look forward to ensuring that the board of trustees for our pension system is continuing to evaluate and reevaluate the climate risk in our investment portfolio, to secure those funds for our retirees and to make sure that we are not losing money because we’re not paying attention to [climate change],” she said.
Lierman ended her speech optimistically.
“This night is about gratitude,” Lierman said, “and tomorrow is about looking forward. Progress is not inevitable, but it is possible.”