Baltimore County Council
Michael “Mike” P. Ertel
Towson, Baltimore County
Commercial Insurance Broker
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly) Towson University – BS. Business administrator. / Finance. Various industry seminars on financial planning and risk management.
Won 2010 Democratic primary for county council, lost general election to David Marks. Appointed by the County Executive and was a CCBC Board Member for 8 years and Chair of Budget and Finance, 17 years of volunteer community leadership with Towson Communities Alliance (neighborhood umbrella group) dealing with community issues such as overcrowded schools, development, zoning, code enforcement. Chairman of the Loch Raven 4th of July Fireworks, former Parkville + Towson Rec Council coach, member of the Loch Raven Optimist Club for 15 years. President of the Baltimore City Police Optimist Club Shop with a Cop program. Member Elks, Member of the 2020 Master Plan Committee. Co-Chair of the University of Towson University Relations Committee. Appointed by the Governor to the Baltimore Airport Zoning Authority for 5 years.
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Baltimore County and how would you address it?
The increase in poverty, violent crime and poor school performance in Baltimore County must be addressed. These three problems are often linked. A recent study found that up to 40% of county residents experience symptoms of poverty. We have too many county residents who lack the training and skills they need to earn a sustainable living. It can also lead some people to make poor life decisions to meet their basic needs. Baltimore County needs a holistic approach that addresses these complex issues. We need to connect and support residents with existing resources that help them succeed financially. For example: there are many professional training programs offered at CCBC that are often underutilized. The County Council will have to play a more proactive role in this area.
What plans do you have to help the county and its businesses successfully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic?
We need to help small businesses in our county who employ 90% of our workforce deal with the aftermath of the COVID shutdown/slowdown. The county has benefited from additional federal funds in the upcoming budget year, but the county government will need to be more cost-conscious as these funds will not be available in future budgets.
What do you think of the future growth and economic development of the department?
I am a strong proponent of encouraging high tech manufacturing to come to our region. The county will need to coordinate at the state and federal levels; and workforce development and training. There’s no reason Baltimore County shouldn’t be the shining example of the future of manufacturing in the Baltimore area! From the perspective of residential growth in the county, we will need to balance growth with green spaces and recreational facilities for our residents. Traffic congestion, sprawl and the environment need to be addressed if we are to grow and try to maintain a good quality of life.
What role can the county government play to improve education in county schools?
County leaders need to take a more proactive role in the academic outcomes of our BCPS schools. The skill level in many of our schools has dropped dramatically. We can’t keep sending graduates out into the world who can’t do basic math or read at grade level. I would also like to see more vocational training programs (CTE) in our high schools. County leadership should approach education holistically. We need to make sure our teachers and support staff have the resources they need to be successful. Baltimore County’s long-term financial health relies on education and training. Good schools boost property values and attract young families, but more importantly produce educated citizens who can support themselves and prosper.
What efforts should the county make to address systemic racism in government services?
The current administration has made many strides in addressing the issue of diversity in government. I support efforts to ensure that all of our Baltimore County residents have good schools, safe neighborhoods, and access to good jobs and affordable housing. The county should proactively remove any barriers that impede this progress.
Do you think there needs to be additional oversight from the Office of Inspector General or changes to the structure of the office? If yes, please explain.
No. The role of the Inspector General should be independent and contribute to instilling the confidence of taxpayers/voters.
What steps should the county take to improve public safety?
Above all, county residents need to feel safe. We need to look at more opportunities for force multipliers to free the police from administrative tasks – for example: parking enforcement and car accident investigation. The response to mental health crises needs to be more robust. Clearly, recruiting the next generation of law enforcement officers needs to be addressed. We have had a lot of retirements among the police and we have to be able to attract and retain the best officers. I believe the county needs to bring back take-out cars for police officers who live in Baltimore County specifically. We should also revisit the idea of auxiliary police. Drug abuse in the county also needs increased thought and attention. Medical calls continue to be the primary source of Fire + EMS response and we may need to add more medical units where we need them most.
What is the impact of climate change on the county and what can be done locally to deal with the effects?
We need to implement more basic environmental strategies, like planting only native trees and plants on new projects, not cutting down trees that have warped a sidewalk, hiring more county arborists, and managing the canopy of our county. Controlling stormwater runoff is another pressing issue. There is a green space deficit in the 6th Arrondissement that I hope to fill with more neighborhood parks, bike/walking paths, and even dog parks. Baltimore County also has miles of shoreline that will need more protection. I’m going to be a warrior to get our streets cleaned up. The amount of litter on our streets and in neighborhoods is not only unsightly, but is pouring into the Chesapeake Bay. We should also consider installing solar panels on more buildings in our county.