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Incumbent Johnny Olszewski prioritizing schools, public safety in run for Baltimore County Executive

Incumbent Johnny Olszewski prioritizing schools, public safety in run for Baltimore County Executive
Incumbent Johnny Olszewski prioritizing schools, public safety in run for Baltimore County Executive 02:58

DUNDALK, Md. -- A lifelong Baltimore County resident is about to wrap up year four as its executive, but Johnny Olszewski isn't ready to hang up his hat yet.

Olszewski swept the Democratic primary in July with more than 86 percent of the votes. In just a few weeks, he will go up against Republican candidate Pat McDonough in the General Election.

"I love this county and feel so fortunate to have had the chance to be county executive for the past four years," Olszewski told WJZ.

Johnny 'O' wants residents to re-elect him as Baltimore County Executive to finish the groundwork laid over the years. This includes a focus on the public school system.

Olszewski said more than $70 million recently went into the pockets of educators and support staff.

"It's allowed us to pay our teachers more. We've gone from middle of the pack to among the best-paid educators in the state and in addition, we've put forward additional support personnel: more teachers, more counselors, psychologists, personnel workers even as we've seen some dips in enrollment since the pandemic."

Building off that investment, the nominee said he also wants to follow through on the long-term plan to upgrade every school within each community that makes up Baltimore County.

The 'Multi-Year Improvement Plan for All Schools' is a process that the local government and public school system created to assess school construction needs.

The program is spread out over 15 years and will invest more than $3 billion, according to Olszewski.

"It's to make sure we end the need for trailers and that we modernize each and every school across all of our communities," the county executive explained.

From schools to public safety, Olszewski said that most violent crimes are trending down, which includes the number of homicides year-to-date.

The Baltimore County Police Department shares crime statistics through a dashboard.

According to data retrieved from the site, 39 people were murdered from January to August 2021, compared to 19 homicides during the same timeframe in 2022.

However, other violent crimes including robberies have ticked up.

Data reveals there have been about 60 more robberies during the first 8 months of this year than last.

He attributes the positive change to the holistic approach taken to combat crime, and said he would expand on that if put in office for a second term.

"We've helped in this role by taking a holistic view. We've spent tens of millions of dollars more in public safety in supporting our police department, but we also recognized that crime can also be fought by investing in recs and parks, workforce development and mental health," explained Olszewski.

While the current county executive laid out how the local government works with the police force, there is an ongoing push for Baltimore County to have a voice in a wastewater treatment plant within their jurisdiction.

The Baltimore City-run facility was seized by the state after pollution and compliance issues.

"We've seen some real challenges between the discharges in the Back River as well as the recent water quality challenges and so we've said we really believe that Baltimore County deserves a seat at the table. We fund half of the operations in capital but we don't have any of that oversight we are asking very clearly to change that," said Olszewski.

While this may be a point of contention between the county and the city, Johnny O said it's still important to have a partnership together.

"A strong city leads to a stronger Baltimore region," said Olszewski. "Together, we are a regional powerhouse when it comes to transportation, economic development, we share cultural institutions, sport institutions, we all cheer for the same teams."

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