Councilman Marks Looks Ahead in 2012

The 5th District councilman started the year by proposing a bill to limit how long new council members can hold onto the job.

The thing about doing what you love is knowing when to step away.  says he knows when that is for him: December 2022, at the latest.

The Perry Hall Republican began 2012 by introducing a bill to limit future council members to three four-year terms, starting in 2014. Marks is nearly certain the vote on his proposal will fail along party lines, 5-2, but the principle is important to the freshman councilman. Introducing a term-limits bill was a campaign promise and Marks plans to limit himself to only three terms.

Such a proposal is par for the course for the soft-spoken Marks, 38, who, in his 13 months on the council, has balanced the voices and votes of the vast 5th district, which stretches from Charles Street to the Harford County line in Kingsville. Patch sat down with him in his Towson office to talk about where the district is headed in 2012.

Balancing Towson and Perry Hall

Towson skews more Democratic while Perry Hall and Kingsville provide more reliable Republican votes. Marks said, after taking office, he spent more time in Towson than anywhere else, talking to major players and introducing himself to residents.

Marks, a self-described moderate, has appointed both Democrats and Republicans to various commissions, including former Democratic council candidates like Bill Paulshock and general election opponent Mike Ertel.

Towson provides the transportation consultant and former Maryland Department of Transportation officials an urban environment to work with. His long-term ideas include a and an for the downtown core.

"Towson is much different from Perry Hall. Towson is structured, it's very neighborhood-oriented. There's layers of groups you don't find in Perry Hall," he said. "I've gotten to apply some of my public policy experience, my background looking at ways we can regenerate the heart of Towson."

But rather than proposing bills, much of Marks' time has been spent encouraging development and speaking up on behalf of residents. In Towson, that has included asking developers to, brokering a deal with Towson Green's developers to plant new trees in neighboring Burkleigh Square and working with officials on community issues.

Marks has found himself well-recieved in Towson, save for one major spat Marks considers a learning experience.

Last fall, Marks introduced a bill at the request of Caves Valley Partners, owners of Towson City Center, which allowed larger office buildings and buildings with a local government function to post larger signs with changeable copy or electronic displays. , saying it contained loopholes allowing for a Times Square or Las Vegas-esque environment in Towson's core.

Marks  to introduce a revised bill. David Kosak, president of the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, said the incident probably improved communication between both sides.

"There's a lot that he was learning as a new member of the County Council," Kosak said. Kosak said residents have valued Marks' visibility and dedication to community issues.

On the east side of the district, Marks has focused his energy on —his response to residents who have watched the community lose much of its farmland to housing developments and shopping centers over the past three decades.

In early December, Marks submitted plans for the downzoning of more than 280 acres of Perry Hall property, essentially preventing new housing developments from being built in more than a dozen neighborhoods, forests and farming areas. It was a popular move, but not drastic enough, according to some of his critics.

"People need to understand that, as a councilman, I can't halt all development," he said. "I have to respect property rights."

Marks first proposed downzoning portions of Perry Hall while serving as president of the Perry Hall Improvement Association, where he helped to draft the . He voted on the plan as a community leader just months after he became a councilman.

What's next in the 5th district

Beyond the term limits bill, Marks' priorities include allowing for a county charter review commission every 10 years. The most recent review was in 1990. A review could look at contentious issues, including the county's redistricting process.

In Towson, Marks wants to start conversations on his urban district proposal, look into a new dog park in Rodgers Forge and encourage the school system to keep the old building as overflow space for elementary or middle school students.

In Perry Hall, Marks wants to see a new supermarket tenant in the Perry Hall Square shopping center and plans to help finalize a long-term lease with community leaders for the Perry Hall Mansion. One thing not on the table: A sorely-needed new high school serving the Perry Hall and White Marsh areas.

"We should have spent some of our $100 million surpluses in the last decade to buy some land for a new high school," Marks said. But county and state budgets are tight, so that means attention and money has to be focused where it's needed more urgently, in the York Road corridor.

For Parkville and Carney, Marks plans to introduce a bill limiting development of so-called "panhandle lots" there, which currently allow developers to build one unit directly behind another.

Limiting his terms, not his potential

Marks has nearly 11 more years, assuming voters allow him the privilege, to do all he's set out to do.

"Twelve years means you'll be around for at least two economic expansions, so you could have the money to do the projects you need to do," Marks said.

Term limits are already an accepted practice for county executives, who are restricted to two. "A good county executive can get done in eight years what they set out to do," he said.

Marks said he has no ambitions for higher office and doesn't ever expect to run as a state delegate or senator. He could, however, see himself returning to a post in state or federal government transportation policy.

Being in the Republican minority of the Maryland General Assembly would hamper his ability to "get things done," he said.

The County Council, however, is smaller and more issue oriented, he said. In a county of mostly Democrats, even a Perry Hall conservative can make a difference on the council.

"This is the political job I've always wanted," Marks said.

Pat Crum January 16, 2012 at 01:37 PM
David Marks is a man of his word. While campaigning he stated what he would do, has proceeded to do what he promised and will continue to work for the people he represents with their best interest in mind. You can always count on him. Continued success in all your endeavors. We would love to have you as our Councilman. Pat & Herb
Paul Amirault January 16, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Interesting article for a newspaper. The Perry Hall/White Marsh area sorely needs another high school. This statement is made without any facts. Simply not true. The issue is redistricting. The Board of Ed has a policy of not redrawing school boundaries. We have enough schools and don't need to build more. We need to redraw boundaries. School "overcrowding" is the result of Board of Ed policies. Gifted and talented with 10 kids in a classroom. Same with Advanced Placement. Going to all day kindergarten instead of half day. We have fewer children in school today than we did in the 1970's and we have many more schools! It's crazy! Overcrowded, no, dumb policies, yes.
Athan Sunderland January 16, 2012 at 04:15 PM
What is nice about this piece, is it helps me understand what my councilman stands for and where he is spending his time and resources. Furthermore, it did not read like a election campaign advertisement. I support the voice and efforts demonstrated by Mr. Marks this past year. I get the sense that he cares about doing what he can today to help the community; both in their own neighborhoods and at the County Government level. Ms. Almond, Mr. Huff and Ms. Bevins also seem akin to Mr. Marks. Similar pieces with them would be interesting. I love living here and am hopeful the work started by the Council in 2011 continues in 2012.
Jason Danaher January 16, 2012 at 05:15 PM
The article also forgot to mention The Perryhall Dog park committee started by David Marks. I am on this committee and he is wonderful to work with and is understanding the needs of the community
Joe January 16, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I hope he runs for Governor. I love living in Perry Hall and I would like to see what he can do for the rest of the state.
David Marks January 16, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Thank you all for the nice comments!
John Doe January 16, 2012 at 08:01 PM
"Caring people make a difference". Thank you David Marks.
Hendo January 16, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I hope he does run for higher office. Such straightforward talk and genuine devotion to serving one's constituents (instead of themselves) are truly qualities missing in most of our politicians.
reader January 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Baltimore County Council and its sweetheart pensions has been a dirty little secret for a long time. Gaudino and a few more slinked away with their wonderful deals that the taxpayers of Baltimore Counthy will be paying for for years. I think it may have woke up some people to the abuse. Councilman Marks, you have my full support, good luck.
Bart January 17, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I was very disappointed when I read, here, that Councilman Marks has no aspirations for higher office. He has been an active, non-partisan positive force in improving Towson, making changes that have been needed for years, prodding projects that have languished, and giving Towson a reason to feel optimistic toward the future. He communicates actively with neighborhood representatives, asking for their opinions and guidance on any issue he decides to tackle. I think he would be a positive force within any governmental body he chose to join.
John Doe January 17, 2012 at 02:44 PM
What are you talking about, "reader?" I am not on any council and have no "wonderful deals". I think you have the wrong person.
Bart January 17, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I think "reader" meant Gardina, king of double dipped pensions. Vince Gardina was David Marks' predecessor.
Bart January 17, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Paul, I'm not sure which statistics you are using for enrollment now, but just look at the overcrowding of elementary and middle schools now. In a few years, this swell of population will hit the High Schools. The Board of Ed. does redraw boundaries, but that won't help this situation much. School population follows the general population, and the population in the Perry Hall/White Marsh area has exploded. Many of the new residents are young families with young kids.
John Doe January 17, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Yes, I know who Vince Gardina is - I am not him. I am the king of nothing.
Bart January 17, 2012 at 03:05 PM
amdactivist January 17, 2012 at 03:38 PM
He's a good man.. He also worked hard to gather Dream act petitions that are a nightmare to the citizens that have to pay for them.. I am also supportivbe of term limits but 8 years should be the limit. Thank you.
Carol Szaroleta January 17, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Well said!
Richard Cook January 17, 2012 at 07:28 PM
What? No immigrant bashing on Mr. Marks' 2012 agenda? He opened can of worms in 2011 by inviting high school kids to get out of the county instead of going on to college. That issue had nothing to do with county government, yet Mr. Marks went out of his way to take a slap at immigrant kids. Has he learned his lesson? Has he learned that diversity, and not bigotry, are the look of the future in Baltimore County? Hope so but I have my doubts. His party's presidential candidates want to ship 10,000,000 people 'back to where they came from' - forgetting that an influx of immigrants (even undocumented immigrants) stimulate economic growth. I am glad to hear Mr. Marks has no interest in higher office. We need people in politics, who will represent all the people, not take shots at some in their constituency while catering to others.
K Blue January 17, 2012 at 07:42 PM
No one, including Mr. Marks or any of the other councilmembers (or state legislators for that matter with the exception of Del. McDonogh whose rhetoric I refuse to address) who oppose in-state tuition for undocumented individuals, ever "invited high school kids to get out of the country instead of going to college." Undocumented individuals are welcome to attend any Maryland institution if they qualify and if they pay the out-of-state or international tuition rate. The fact that certain individuals cannot afford to pay the out-of-state rate at this time could be easily remedied by having the millions in dollars wasted on lobbying spent on the affected individuals so they can meet the financial obligations of an international student until they actually become citizens. Do you have any idea how many citizens in this State cannot even afford to pay the in-state rate?
Paul Amirault January 17, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Bart, sorry I missed this post. As a real estate developer who had to deal with the school overcrowding regulations every time I submitted a plan I became curious. I remembered going to school in Aberdeen and you chose Business or Academic classes only. My 3 children going to High School in Perry Hall/ Kingsville exposed me to gifted and talented and AP classes which was intriguing as luckily my children were doing well. I asked Baltimore County about enrollment statistics from the 1970s. The information I was given by Baltimore County stated that total enrollment then was about 130,000. You can confirm that independently. Today's full time enrollment is about 106,000. Yes, wow! The reasons for that is a classroom of 10 AP students still takes up a room. I never had a class at Aberdeen that had less than 25 in it unless there was a flu epidemic. All day Kindergarten doubled the rooms needed immediately for those classes. Are those good things? Different debate, my point is don't blame it on us developers, if politicians and school officials make it public policy, then blame them. Regarding school redistricting you are simply incorrect. Although the School Board has the power for redistricting, it is very rare and usually only when a new school comes on line. Unlike Harford County where every 2 years they have a fight. Baltimore County has capacity, just not the courage to move kids around.
Paul Amirault January 17, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Corey, clearly a falsehood. You are King........... Of Hugging!
John Doe January 17, 2012 at 07:56 PM
"When in doubt, hug it out."
Richard Cook January 17, 2012 at 08:25 PM
K Blue, Whether only wealthy immigrant kids are wanted here is a policy issue that could be debated. It's not likely to be debated, in the real world of poverty and bettering yourself through effort and education - which is the world of most immigrants. In any case, whether only wealthy immigrants ought to be allowed to live in Baltimore County is not an issue that is before the Baltimore County Council. But that did not stop freshman Council member David Marks from spending campaign funds to help pay for the anti-immigrant anti-DREAM Act petition drive. That was not county business but it sure is, narrow minded, race-baiting, partisan politics. I certainly do see why you don't want to address Delegate McDonough's rhetoric. But his position on the DREAM Act is exactly the same as Mr. Marks - with this difference: the DREAM Act was before the legislature, where McDonough had to take a vote and did. The DREAM Act was not and is not now before the County Council - but that did not stop Mr. Marks from letting us all know how narrow minded he is. Thanks for that, at least.
K Blue January 17, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Mr. Cook, you are losing me here. I certainly dont want, nor think that anyone would want to hear, any debate about "whether only wealthy immigrant kids are wanted here." And I disagree with your statement that the petition drive is anti-immigrant. The immigrant population in Baltimore County is on the rise, but not all immigrants stand in support of granting in-state tuition to noncitizens, esp. not the immigrants who fought hard to come here under legal pretenses and who went through the proper channels to gain citizenship which provides them certain benefits. In a very real sense, the law as enacted hurts legal immigrants by devaluing their dedication and perseverance to obtain citizenship (which has unfortunately caused many people to group all immigrants as one and the same which is dreadfully unfair) and also discourages future immigrants from respecting the immigration policy and the value of citizenship. This is not a perfect world. No one is entitled to a college education. I wish that every person who aspires to attend college would be able to at a rate they can afford, but that is not possible. Creating a law to accommodate a small percentage of individuals that is not civil right-based is not good policy. 5 of the 7 councilmembers (Democrats and Republicans) have voiced their opposition to the law. I disagree that any of their motivations or actions were race-baiting, narrow minded, partisan, or discriminatory.
Paul Amirault January 17, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I'm sorry K Blue, but your comments that are well thought out and sincere, ignore the simple fact that every politician's vote is calculated. They want more than everything else, to be re-elected or to move to another level. Just the facts. Motives have to be pure to be sincere. I gain nothing whatsoever by supporting the DREAM Act, can all politicians say that? I don't think so.
Richard Cook January 18, 2012 at 01:49 AM
K Blue, This will be my last comment to you. Maybe you have good reason to not want your name to be known, like so many who post comments. My only suggestion is: if you cannot take part in a public discourse, then don't expect to have your views given much weight. Permit me simply to point out - once more - how divisive and destructive it is to tell children they are not valued or wanted, have no future in our midst. Why did this happen? There must have been a dozen bills that passed into law during the past legislative session - which the right wing GOP objects to. Which one was selected for a statewide petition? The one law that effects no more than about 1,000 children who are its beneficiaries. The one law that allows the right wing to go after actual, living persons. The one law that allows the GOP to give aide and comfort to the racist fringe in our midst, who hate hispanics. The one law that targets actual flesh and blood people, who are too weak to fight back - undocumented kids. This is despicable. The politicians on the County Council, who gave support to this terrible, divisive petition drive are cowards. My own councilmen, Todd Huff, is too cowardly even to return my calls, to say nothing of meeting with me. These council members are not leaders but followers, panderers, playing a narrow, partisan game with the lives of high schoolers. Shame on all of them. We will all be better off when they are retired from politics.
K Blue January 18, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Mr. Cook, your last comment to me has been received. (I didn't want to be rude and not acknowledge it).
Randy Cooper January 19, 2012 at 07:41 PM
David Marks is a gem. Forty years ago there use to be public servants like him who straddled party lines. How often do you hear the word "moderate" applied to a politician today? He is absolutely right in pushing for term limits. Being on the County Council was never intended to be a career job, although several former pension receiving councilmen have made it exactly that. The part time job was intended as "public service". If after 3 terms on the council, a councilman(person) still has the taste for politics, then he/she should try for County Executive or a position at the state level. We need term limits or an end to the self created pension system that rewards career politicians for life. David is a level headed leader who brings compromise, not animosity. I'd love to see him as County Executive or Governor.


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