Name: Michael Joseph Hough
Political party: Republican
Where you live: Brunswick
Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two previous jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Maryland state senator; chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney
Political experience (public offices held and when; as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years; do not include political party positions): Maryland House of Delegates (2011-2015); assistant minority leader in 2014; Maryland Senate (2016-2022), minority whip in 2021
1 – Why are you running for county executive? (75 words max)
I am running for county executive because I am concerned that Frederick County is becoming Montgomery County North — overtaxed and overdeveloped. The candidates on the other side have proposed high density development and have voted multiple times to increase property taxes. This year alone, the county had a $50 million budget surplus, increased spending by 10% and yet is still increasing property taxes. I will control the growth and freeze property taxes.
2 – What is the most important issue in this race? How specifically would you address it? (100 words max)
I believe the most important issue in this campaign is how Frederick County grows. We need a balanced approach. County Executive Gardner’s plan to preserve 100,000 acres of farmland is a good start, but we need to do more. Instead of taking a portion of the recordation tax and putting it toward new housing, we should use all that revenue to preserve farmland. New neighborhoods in the county need to be an addition, not a subtraction to our county. As we grow, it is important that we have quality developments that don’t overcrowd our schools and roads.
3 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this position? (100 words max)
I’m one of the only candidates running who has actual management experience. For the last five years, I have served as a chief of staff for a member of Congress, which entails the management of over 20 employees spanning across three offices. We don’t need to elect a county executive who needs on-the-job training on how to be a manager. Additionally, I have been a leader since the age of 18, when I joined the United States Air Force and held a top secret clearance and worked on Minuteman III nuclear-tipped ICBM missiles.
4 – What is one major issue County Executive Jan Gardner has handled poorly? What would you have done differently? (100 words max)
For the last 8 years, Frederick County government has failed to adopt the constant yield property tax rate, which means you have paid more in property taxes every year. Even over the last two years, when the county had over $120 million budget surpluses, they still increased property taxes. They did all of this while dramatically increasing spending. As county executive, I will freeze property taxes, control government spending and cut the income tax 10% across the board.
5 – What do you think of the county's goal of preserving 100,000 acres of farmland by 2040? (100 words max)
Preserving 100,000 acres of farmland is a good goal. However, we need to accelerate our efforts to get there. Funding agricultural preservation needs to be a top priority for the county. Instead of subsidizing the development of more high-density housing, we need to fund agricultural preservation.
6 – How well does the county do at attracting new businesses and significant employers? What should the county do? (100 words max)
An inexcusable blunder by Frederick County was the failure to close a $30 billion business deal with Amazon, which would have been one of the largest investments in U.S history. By all reports, Amazon was willing to invest a significant amount of revenue and infrastructure improvements in the county. This would have meant millions of dollars more for our schools, roads and farm preservation. You would be hard pressed to find a project that was more environmentally friendly and less of an impact in the way of development, and yet produce as much revenue, as data centers.
7 – What do you think of the Livable Frederick Master Plan? How should the county grow in population and development? (100 words max)
Livable Frederick is a good road map of where we should place future development. I believe we need a balanced approach towards growth. Areas of the county that are outside municipalities should stay suburban and rural. I will ban new high-density development and stop Frederick County from becoming Montgomery County North.
8 – Do you support a plan to widen interstates 270 and 495 and add tolls? Why or why not? (100 words max)
I am strongly in support of widening I-270 and 495. This improvement is long past due. It is time to address the soul-crushing traffic congestion in this area. I strongly support Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to widen I-270. I am also proud to have worked in a bipartisan manner to bring funds back to Frederick County to begin the expansion of U.S. 15.
9 – How well is the county caring for a rapidly growing population of older residents? How would you address future needs? (100 words max)
Seniors are being harmed greatly by record inflation. The average American is paying $500 more a month for items like groceries and gas. This is devastating to those who are on a fixed income. We need to freeze property taxes and do more to alleviate the tax burden on our seniors, so they can afford to stay here in Frederick County.
10 – Has the county spent its money wisely? Give specific examples. (100 words max)
The county budget has grown way too fast over the last eight years, growing by $257 million. In the most recent budget, spending increased by 10 percent and added 163 new government employees. They have also added several new departments and used one-time funding for ongoing costs. Day one as county executive, I will implement a hiring freeze and initiate a top-to-bottom review of county spending. We need to eliminate wasteful spending, so we can prioritize funding for public safety, education and agriculture preservation. We need to provide relief to taxpayers by cutting wasteful and unnecessary spending.