By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
What exactly does a Comptroller do? A question many voters may ask themselves when filling in their ballots for Maryland’s primary election in July.
The comptroller serves as our state’s chief financial officer (CFO), overseeing tax collection, maintaining Maryland’s books, preparing its financial reports and paying the state’s employees.
The comptroller is one of only three independently-elected state-wide offices and sits, along with the governor and treasurer, on the Board of Public Works, the highest administrative body in our state government.
Currently, Bowie Mayor Tim Adams and Delegate Brooke Lierman are vying to seize the Democratic nomination and to fill Peter Franchot’s soon-to-be-vacant seat.
The AFRO has chosen to endorse Lierman, who was eager to explain the duties as comptroller and how the office is uniquely positioned to mitigate significant challenges facing our states such as the racial wealth divide, climate change, and public school funding and affordable housing.
Lierman is a mother of two and has been a member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 2015, representing District 46 in Baltimore City. She brings with her a wide breadth of experience in advocacy as a disability rights and civil rights attorney.
It’s clear to the AFRO that Lierman has a history of sticking up for the little guy in both her personal and professional life.
While attending Dartmouth University, she helped to start the Dream Program, a mentoring program that fosters positive relationships between college students and children living in subsidized housing.
In 2018, Lierman was a part of the team of lawyers who represented James Owens, a Baltimore man who spent 21 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Baltimore City ultimately agreed to pay $9 million to Owens in one of the largest settlements in the city’s history.
For Lierman, the comptroller’s office is a place where over the next four years, she can make a difference for the next 40 years to come by preserving the power of the purse.
As a member of the Board of Public Works, Lierman emphasized that her obligation would be to the people.
“We need to be spending that money, especially all of this federal infrastructure money coming in a way that truly builds generational wealth and builds for generations to come,” said Lierman.
In her meetings with residents across the state, many entrepreneurs have asked Lierman how they can get involved in the state’s procurement system. On the Board of Public Works, she plans to streamline the process, making it more accessible and transparent.
It’s also a priority for Lierman to diversify the state’s investment portfolio; she understands that employing investment firms run by people from all racial backgrounds will assure that Maryland receives better returns.
As a member of Maryland’s State Retirement and Pension System, which oversees nearly $70 billion for over 415,000 state retirees, Lierman intends to divert money to invest in local communities, housing, entrepreneurs and start-ups.
She wants businesses that start in Maryland to stay in Maryland, and wants to ensure that our state’s residents can afford to patronize them.
“The fastest growing entrepreneur base in the country right now is Black women, and yet, they are routinely turned away for loans at a higher rate than White men and White women,” said Lierman. “It’s really essential that we have capital available for our entrepreneurs in Maryland.”
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