By Katie Tabeling firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNAPOLIS — Kevin Hornberger called himself the underdog four years ago when he challenged an incumbent with 20 years under his belt to represent Cecil County residents in District 35A. Now he says he’s bringing that same fighting spirit to defend his seat as he seeks re-election.
“I’ve been listening to the voters and rallying for them, it’s like running every day like I’m still the underdog,” he said. “I want to build on the foundation we’ve been laying.”
Hornberger, 36, of North East, parlayed his work experience in Washington, D.C., with the Library of Congress into elected state office as a way to mitigate heavy taxes that burdened Cecil County. Repercussions of the economic downturn led then-Gov. Martin O’Malley to raise taxes throughout his two terms, which generated $7.6 billion total, according to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.
Hornberger, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said he’s been able to push for “sensible tax cuts” and a slow-down in government spending. One of his main goals in his second term, if re-elected, would be restoring funding back to Cecil County.
“A major problem back them was we were paying more in taxes, and that funding would rarely make it back to us. We’ve been making some hay in cuts in taxes — it’s been eight years without an increase,” he said. “I’d like to see even more cuts in the next four years … and returning the funding to our agencies and resources.”
Hornberger has also helped lead the Cecil County delegation out of its dysfunctional era, as the county’s lawmakers often couldn’t agree on any bill in the General Assembly. The most valuable lesson he learned in four years that it was “OK to disagree with an issue” if it did not stymie progress. As a result, the county’s and municipalities’ relationship with Annapolis has improved as well.
“It was like a logjam. The tiniest thing, they couldn’t reach a consensus on. Now, we’re working together to get bills passed. We’ve had more local bills passed unanimously than in the last 20 years,” he said.
Hornberger calls himself “one of the fiercest advocates for the Second Amendment,” and recently voted against a “red flag” law that would allow a judge to order gun owners to temporarily surrender their firearms if they’re deemed a threat to themselves or others.
“That was troubling in how it was written. It was written so that anyone who has an accusation against them could have their guns confiscated without due process under the Fifth Amendment,” he explained.
However, he also voted for a bill that bans bump stocks, or a rapid-fire trigger activation accessory that were infamously used by the shooter to kill 58 people at a Las Vegas concert last year. That decision came after the NRA reportedly brief lawmakers in the governor’s office and when President Trump weighed in on the issue.
“That was one of the toughest votes I’ve ever had to make,” Hornberger said. “I was for bump stocks, but after the atrocities I’ve seen … It’s not a natural part of the firearm, it’s an accessory.”
When word spread on Hornberger’s vote on the bump stocks, constituents started writing and calling him.
“The ones I’ve been able to speak with over the phone understand that I disagree with them, but I still am one of the fiercest supporters for the Second Amendment,” he said.
If re-elected, Hornberger promises to continue fighting for Cecil County’s fair share of funding and changing the state’s outlook on standardized testing in schools. His son attends North East High School.
“The tests are way too burdensome, and they’re taking up money and resources that we could be using for higher pay for teachers,” he said. “I’ll be working on reducing or eliminating testing.”
Another high-priority item is the redevelopment of the long-vacant Bainbridge property. The 1,200-acre property had belonged to the U.S. Navy and is fraught with environmental issues that need to be addressed before business can move in.
“The goal had been to break ground in my term, but there’s a lot of prospects for it,” Hornberger said.