“We are up against a lot in the state right now,” she said in an interview before her virtual campaign launch. “The pandemic has both really crystallized existing inequity in the state, and reinforced the need for bold and innovative leadership.”
No woman has ever served as Maryland comptroller. Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), 73, has redefined the role during his 13-year tenure, using it as a bully pulpit to press for air conditioning in all schools and for the academic year to start after Labor Day; advocate for small businesses in general and the craft beer industry in particular; and scrutinize state spending. Franchot is running for governor in 2022.
Lierman, 41, said she would go even further, aiming for the office to become a center for financial-related policy solutions based an analysis of state tax data.
“It’s a way to pinpoint families that are struggling in this state and those who are thriving,” she said. “We can figure out why, and then we can craft solutions.”
Lierman said she would use the agency’s 12 offices as community hubs for financial literacy training, small business help and tax preparation for low-income people. As one of three members on the state Board of Public Works, she said, she would encourage more contracting with small, local and minority-owned businesses.
First elected in 2014, Lierman quickly rose into leadership positions in the House of Delegates, supporting issues including mass transit, expanded broadband access, broadening public records laws and paying college athletes.
She wrote bans on plastic bags and foam containers, as well as a bill boosting oversight in prioritizing transportation projects, which provoked both a veto from Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and a subsequent override from the General Assembly.
Lierman, who lives in Fells Point, is the daughter of Maryland Democratic Party stalwart Terry Lierman. She grew up in Montgomery County, graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, majored in history at Dartmouth College and earned a law degree from the University of Texas.
Several other Democrats are considering a run for comptroller if Franchot continues his gubernatorial bid. They include state Sens. Brian J. Feldman (Montgomery) and James C. Rosapepe (Prince George’s), Del. Kumar P. Barve (Montgomery) and Bowie Mayor Tim Adams.
House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) said a team of Republicans is recruiting candidates and encourages Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley to run. The last Republican to serve as Maryland comptroller took office in 1898.