Public and Personal Safety
With over a decade of experience in higher education, Opel wants Howard County students, from Pre-K through 12th grade and beyond, to have the best educational experience imaginable. Whether going straight to college or trade school, or going directly into the military or workforce, Opel will strive to ensure that appropriate budgets are fully funded and disseminated in a timely manner to help our students thrive.
- Education is of the utmost importance; in my initial campaign for County Council, as a current Council member, and running again for re-election. Our amazing award-winning school system, library system, and community college are amongst the most sought-after in the state of Maryland. I am proud to support and approve the County Executive’s budget for record funding each year to education in Howard County.
- In the fall of 2019, I cosponsored Council Resolution 2019, to encourage the Board of Education to enhance, promote, and encourage a unified and socioeconomic blended education system for all, as they considered redistricting. I’m extremely proud of this resolution because it recognizes the past and promotes a fair and balanced future for our Howard County Public School System students. We are working together to resolve the problematic and systematic inconsistencies that lower-income students face every day. Coupled with adversity and mischaracterization, the impetus of this Council Resolution garnered support from some of my colleagues and was ultimately passed.
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Public and Personal Safety
The safety of District 2 residents is essential to the viability of keeping the Columbia area one of the top places to live in the United States. Opel vows to work closely with the Howard County Professional Firefighters Association as well as the Howard County Police Officers’ Association to ensure that public safety remains an integral piece of our everyday lives. In addition, Opel wishes to continue and enhance top-notch training of emergency medical technicians (EMTs), as well as assist with efforts to eradicate human trafficking in the district.
Public and Personal Safety Accomplishments
- Running on a commitment to public and personal safety, I was elated to be endorsed by both the Howard County Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 2000 and the Howard County Police Officers’ Association, FOP Lodge 21. I promised to ensure that both our police officers and firefighters were well equipped and adequately staffed. Thus, I am proud to support and approve funding for all facets of public and personal safety, including voting to support an increase in the Fire Tax which is directed towards the operating and capital costs of fire and rescue services, as well as adequate funding for both police officers and firefighters during budget sessions.
- It was an honor and a privilege to sponsor the “Liberty Act”, Council Bill 63-2020, which prohibits all County employees from inquiring about the status of an individual’s citizenship, protects the confidentiality of an undocumented person’s citizenship, forbids discrimination against one’s citizenship, and revises local ordinances on immigration enforcement. Although Howard County already practiced most of the Liberty Act by policy, I thought it was crucial to codify, especially because we are the fast-growing jurisdiction in the state of Maryland. Howard County has a strong reputation for championing human rights through cultural inclusion and economic strength. The Liberty Act provides protections and provisions for the most vulnerable and underrepresented. For months, my office reviewed legislative initiatives introduced by neighboring jurisdictions and met with statewide advocacy organizations that work tirelessly on behalf of immigration policies and best practices. I believe this legislative proposal achieves the goals of ensuring public and personal safety, especially for citizens who are forced to live in the shadows of our communities. According to recent studies, some citizens are hesitant to communicate with local government agencies, participate in civic engagements, or apply for community resources due to their immigration status. These challenges impact all citizens, especially in the County’s effort to provide a safer and more inclusive community.
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Opel is committed to every one of his neighbors in the district, whether it be Oakland Mills Village, Long Reach Village, outparcels of Glenmont or Sewells Orchard, southern Ellicott City, southern Elkridge, or the Route 1 corridor. The sense of community in Howard County is something that should be modeled across the nation. Opel will work across boundaries to listen to issues and develop solutions that will only enhance our beautiful communities not only in District 2, but throughout Howard County. Working together, we will win together!
Community Vibrancy Accomplishments
- Fresh off the campaign trail, Councilmember Christiana Rigby and I thought of ways to provide services to our children. We realized that Howard County did not provide gender-neutral changing stations for parents. As a father with two young children, changing my kids in a public restroom was a challenge, especially if the changing station was only in the women’s bathroom and my wife was not with me at the time. I was excited that Councilmember Rigby and I introduced legislation that would foster a pro-family environment for parents and guardians in Howard County. Parents and caregivers should be able to safely and easily access diaper changing stations in our public restrooms. Before this legislation, there were no requirements for diaper changing stations in public restrooms. Most importantly, these stations must be accessible to parents and caregivers regardless of their gender.
- To decrease the use and pollution of plastics in Howard County, Councilmember Christiana Rigby and I sponsored Council Bill 64-2019. Before the introduction of the legislation, I met with environmental advocacy groups, members from our county’s State Delegation, the President of the Maryland Retailer’s Association, the Plastics Industry Association, and the General Manager of Advance Polybag, Incorporated—a paper, plastic, and reusable bag distributor located in District 2. Council Bill 64-2019 requires a fee of five cents on disposable plastic bags that are 2.25 mil thick. The county remits four cents creating a Disposable Plastics Reduction Fund to curtail behavioral practices, provide environmental educational programs, and ensure water pollution education and stream clean-ups.
- While campaigning to serve, many constituents addressed the marketing strategies of local realtors, bolstering certain school districts over others. Thus, I was proud to sponsor Council Resolution 134-2019, encouraging realtors to omit references to school zones in promotional or directional advertisements. Currently, Howard County Schools are ranked number one in the state and are sought after by families globally. No school is greater than the other; every Howard County school has the same curriculum. Although Council Resolution 134 is not legally binding I am grateful of the support from my colleagues, our State Delegation, and the Howard County Realtor Association (HCAR) for their support. Council Resolution 134 passed unanimously, encouraging realtors to omit references to school zones in promotional or directional advertisements.
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