2022 Candidate Questionnaire: Mike Ertel For Baltimore County District 6
TOWSON- The Towson Patch spoke to Mike Ertel about his history, why he is running for office, and his positions on local issues.
Ertel is running against Tony Campbell for Baltimore County Council District 6.
Below are Ertel's answers to our candidate questionnaire.
What is the primary reason you are running for this office?
"I've been a community leader for a long time, and I've dealt with county government and county politics because you have to when you're advocating for your community. I've seen what the county does well, what they don't do so well, and things that need improvement. That's the main reason I'm running because I feel like I've gone as far as I can as a community person to get some things done, and If I were a council member, I could get more things done."
"There are three districts in Baltimore County that surround the city, the first, the second, and the sixth. We have some of the oldest communities in the county; along with that comes issues: aging infrastructure, aging homes, and older populations, some of which are now struggling to take care of the properties they've lived in for 40 or 50 years. They're older now and just can't do what they used to."
"There's a lot of TLC that needs to be done in the sixth district, and that's one of the big reasons I'm running. I've been in Towson for 27 years; I spent the first 25 years of my life on the east side of the district, and I understand the neighborhoods well and some of their challenges. You learn more as you go out, knock on doors, spend time in the communities, talk to people, and see some of the conditions and issues. It would be exciting to represent it and try to get out there and improve the quality of life for people living in the sixth."
What will be your single most important priority if you get elected?
"There are two levels to it: there's the micro level, which is the neighborhoods, and then there's the macro level, which is leadership and the direction of what we are going to do here in Baltimore County."
"If I have to boil it down to one thing, it's addressing the increased poverty in the county. We have more poverty than we've ever seen in Baltimore County. A recent statistic said that 40% of Baltimore County residents are currently experiencing some symptoms of poverty, which is alarming. We've got to figure out where we're going in the county because if that number continues to grow, we'll have some issues that will take a lot of resources."
"We are not addressing some of the issues we have in Baltimore County. We often act like it's 1955. We're out there building new housing developments, cutting ribbons on shopping centers, building new schools, and all this good stuff. We've got some things to address, and as county leadership, we have to decide if we're going to become more like the city or we're going to decide that we've got to do things differently to help people get out of their cycles of poverty."
What sets you apart from your opponent?
"I'm an optimist. I've worked with kids, and I've been doing that for 30 years; I taught middle school kids public speaking. I run a program called shop with a cop, and I was president of a Towson umbrella group that our neighborhoods belong to so that each neighborhood can have its own local board."
"As an officer of the TCA to PCA Towson community alliance, you deal with everything from overcrowded schools to code enforcement. [Code Enforcement] is where people who don't cut their grass or have trash piled up in their backyards or old cars on their front lawns, the county has a department that goes out and cites people for those violations. Code enforcement has been notoriously behind the eight ball, or it takes them a long time to deal with issues. I've dealt with that at the community level as well."
"Not to beat up on Tony, but you know, a lot of times people run for office, and, you know, they have been on a commission, "I've done this, I've done that." But I've been a council person that sits on the other side of that table."
Where do you work, and what is your job title?
"I've been with the same company as a commercial insurance broker for 30 years, predominantly working with small business people dealing with risk management, issues, insurance, benefits, and things like that."
Age and birthplace? Other family information you'd like to share?
"I'm 56, and I've been married for 28 years. I have three grown children, all in their 20s, and I was born but was born right here at St. Joseph's Hospital in Towson."
Please list the schools and colleges you attended, the degrees you attained, and when.
"I went to poly high school in the city, I'm a Proud Polly grad, and then I went to Towson University and received a degree in business administration finance."
Approximately how much money do you expect to spend on your campaign?
"Once we pay our bills, it'll be about 65,000 dollars."
How long have you lived in Baltimore County District 6?
"I'm a Lifelong Baltimore resident, I grew up in Baltimore City, but I've lived in the county for the last 33 years."
What's your favorite thing about Baltimore County District 6?
"What I really like about this district is that it has a lot of diverse neighborhoods, diverse kinds of housing, everything from really great row houses: townhome communities like Rogers Forge and Loch Raven village to neat suburban areas like in Rosedale and Overlea."
"In Towson, we have a lot of apartment buildings and a lot of apartment dwellers. We also have a lot of senior living facilities; It's pretty cool to see the diversity of the neighborhoods."
"The sixth district is what we call the inner ring communities. They're older communities that need attention, but they're great neighborhoods. They just need some TLC and a cheerleader. What I really dig about the sixth district is that all it needs is a champion to improve it and deal with some issues. It's got great people and solid neighborhoods for the most part."
What is the biggest problem in Baltimore County District 6?
"County leadership needs to address our pressing issues like increased poverty, food insecurity, aging infrastructure, and student underperformance. We have several schools in the district with test scores that could be better. There's more fear of crime than there ever was. [crime] is the number one issue you hear at the doors. Not only crime but lawlessness, people speeding through neighborhoods, smoking pot in front of kids, and general disrespect for the community."
"We also have a lot of aging infrastructure. We have pipe and stormwater runoff problems. We have streets that need to be repaved. We have streets that have had sinkholes. We have a lot of things that need attention. We have Towson High School, 73 years old, and it is basically falling down. It has brown water coming out of the drinking fountains, and it's time we focus on these older communities."