Public Financing Leads to Greater Diversity in Montgomery County Elections

July 11, 2018

Progressive Maryland works to promote social, economic and racial justice. It is leading the fight for progressive change in Maryland through grassroots organizing, public education and legislative advocacy. With support from Voqal, it has worked to ensure the Montgomery County small-dollar matching program has been used effectively and is leveraged by a diverse set of progressive candidates.

In order to encourage progressive candidates to use this program, Progressive Maryland held a training with its partners at Common Cause Maryland and the Maryland Board of Elections on how to properly run a campaign using the Montgomery County small-dollar matching program. This training taught participants how to navigate the new system and left participants better prepared to engage in a new way of raising money and campaigning.

Brandy Brooks, Progressive Maryland’s Leadership Development Organizer, exemplifies the importance of this work. Brooks has used public financing to change the narrative about who can run, win and govern in Montgomery County. Brooks’ experience working within a movement politics framework convinced her that she could run a boldly progressive campaign to become the first African-American woman elected at large in a county of 500 square miles and over 1 million people.

Public financing is providing Brooks a path to success as a woman of color without access to wealth. It’s also a key selling point in her conversations with voters. She proves that everyday people can build enough power to challenge big money and insider politics and get a government that reflects and represents them.

By connecting with residents around the economic and social justice struggles she shares in common with so many Montgomery County families – and by providing a vision of how people power can build a new kind of politics – Brandy went from being a political unknown to being recognized as one of the top three progressive candidates in a Democratic primary field of 34 people.

Progressive Maryland has worked tirelessly in its efforts to ensure Montgomery’s small-dollar matching programs is successful in its efforts to get big money out of politics. Its focus on encouraging diverse and underrepresented candidates to take full advantage of the system is key to creating the more socially equitable world envisioned by Voqal. We are proud to have supported its work and look forward to the continued success of this program to build a more robust and responsive democracy in Maryland.