Author: Byron for Council

Byron Touts Record & Commitment to Progressive Leadership in HoCo Times Profile

Earlier this week, the Howard County Times published its first profile on Byron and the race for County Council District 4. Byron touted his proven record of progressive advocacy on issues like marriage equality, protecting our immigrant community, and getting big money out of politics. He also made clear that as a Council member, he’d lead on the difficult issues, including those with national implications: “There are times… in local government when we are going to have to step up.”

Byron also discussed development and growth in Columbia. “The more I talk to people, the more concern I hear that Howard County is unaffordable for people… There’s concern about whether… development is occurring in a way that is shaped by the community’s values.”

While Byron is committed to being a progressive leader on the County Council, he explained his belief that this means “listening to people, respecting where they’re coming from and trying to incorporate their concerns into whatever decision you make.” He’ll be a Council member who will always listen to the people of District 4 and all of Howard County.

Read the full article HERE.

 

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Byron Marches in Baltimore Pride Parade with U.S. Sen. Van Hollen, Del. Mary Washington

Baltimore’s Pride celebrations were covered in the Washington Blade. Click the screenshot to read the full story.

On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Byron marched in the Baltimore Gay Pride Parade, which traveled from the neighborhoods of Mt. Vernon to Old Goucher. This was Byron’s 11th Baltimore Pride as an out gay man. “I remember my first Pride, how exhilarating it was to be out of the closet, and how amazing it was to see and meet so many people like me. Experiencing the love and solidarity in this community made coming out easier, has made being out exciting and enriching, and has made the battles we’ve waged for our right to be out and free and equal ones where we’ve succeeded over and over again. Our work goes on and we’ll continue to prove that love and equality will win.”

The Grand Marshals for the parade were U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, a longtime ally of the LGBT community, and State Delegate Mary Washington, one of the first African-American lesbian legislators in America. Other LGBT elected officials marching included State Senator Rich Madaleno, the first openly gay state Senator in Maryland history and a candidate for governor, College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn, and Delegate Luke Clippinger. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Delegate Brooke Lierman were other allies who marched.

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Byron Files to Run for Council, Kicks Off Campaign

On Friday, June 9, 2017, Byron Macfarlane officially became a candidate for Howard County Council, District 4. The following day, at the home of two close friends, Bob Fontaine and Doug Lea, Byron kicked off his campaign. He was joined by dozens of supporters, friends, and family, along with County Council Chairman Jon Weinstein (D1), County Council Members Calvin Ball (D2) and Jen Terrasa (D3), State Delegates Clarence Lam (D12), Eric Ebersole (D12), Vanessa Atterbeary (D13), and Frank Turner (D13). Byron talked about his deep Howard County roots, his accomplishments as Register of Wills, his passion for public education, and his commitment to fighting for progressive values while always looking for compromise and collaboration.

Byron’s announcement received the attention of the online news outlet MarylandReporter.com and the local blog, Spartan Considerations.

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Washington Blade Highlight’s Byron’s Announcement

Macfarlane announces bid for HoCo Council

May 24, 2017 | by Steve Charing
Byron Macfarlane, gay news, Washington Blade

Byron Macfarlane is running for County Council in Howard.

Byron Macfarlane, Howard County’s Register of Wills and the first openly gay person elected to a countywide office, announced on May 17 a run for County Council. The 4th District for which he will be running covers parts of Columbia, including the villages of Town Center, Wilde Lake, Harper’s Choice, Hickory Ridge, and River Hill as well as Maple Lawn, Highland, and part of North Laurel.

“As Register of Wills, I’ve been working to make a positive change in people’s lives for over six years,” Macfarlane said in a statement.  “I love my job but it’s time for me to make a change.”

Macfarlane, 34, notes that the timing is right given the uncertain times and the coarsening of the political system.

“After 18 years of political activism, I can tell you that each of us does, indeed, have the power to make positive change,” he said. “In the 2018 election, we can and must stand together for our shared progressive values, and choose the future that we want for ourselves and the next generation.”

Macfarlane, a Democrat, was elected as Register of Wills in 2010, narrowly defeating the six-term Republican incumbent Kay Hartleb. He won re-election in 2014 running unopposed.

His tenure at that position has been marked by a technological overhaul of his office and legislative initiatives aimed at making the probate process more streamlined and less expensive for Maryland families.

“I stepped out of my formal role to advocate for progressive causes, such as marriage equality, protecting the immigrant population from Donald Trump, and campaign finance reform that would get big money out of local elections,” Macfarlane told the Blade.

His campaign for County Council will officially kick off on June 10.

(See the original post on the Washington Blade website here)

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Byron’s Campaign Kick-Off

Byron’s Campaign Kick-Off

Join Delegates Clarence Lam and Vanessa Atterbeary, along with hosts Bob Fontaine and Doug Lea, to kick off Byron’s campaign for Howard County Council, District 4.

When: June 10, 2017 (12:00pm – 1:30pm)

Where: 10964 Eight Bells Lane, Columbia, MD 21044

This event is free, however, contributions are appreciated. Please make any checks payable to “Friends of Byron Macfarlane”.

Authority: Friends of Byron Macfarlane, Charles Bubeck, Treasurer.

RSVP on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/695763653928612

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Paper Reduction Initiative Signed Into Law

On Tuesday, May 10th, Governor Larry Hogan signed House Bill 472 into law. This bill, introduced by Delegate Christian Miele of Baltimore County, will reduce the volume of documents stored by the Registers by over 90%. For almost 20 years now, the Registers of Wills have been scanning and imaging all papers they receive. Using these high-resolution, secure images, documents can be easily reproduced. This legislation would allow the Registers to dispose of the original paper files, except any wills or codicils (amendments to wills). This enormous reduction will save the state – Archives and the Registers – and local jurisdictions – which are required to house the Registers in their courthouse – time and money in terms of storage, equipment, and maintenance.

Byron is grateful to Delegate Miele for sponsoring this legislation and for his colleagues’ support in this endeavor. Together, this simple, good government bill, is now law.

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Register’s Office Receives Exemplary Review in Recent Report

The Office of Legislative Audits, in a routine review of the operations of the office of the Register of Wills for Howard County, has concluded that the office has no “significant deficiencies in the design of operation of the Office’s internal control,” nor does it have any “significant instances of noncompliance with applicable laws, rules, or regulations.” Byron and his dedicated staff have worked diligently over many years to ensure that this office’s fiscal operations are conducted with precision and integrity. This report demonstrates that Byron’s leadership has produced a highly efficient, fiscally sound public office that Howard County residents can be proud of. Byron’s office generates between $2.5 and $3 million in revenue each year, the vast majority of which is placed into the state General Fund to support public health, primary and higher education, transportation, and public safety.

For more information, the full audit report can be found here.

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Registers Push 2016 Legislative Agenda

In the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the Maryland Register of Wills Association is pushing three pieces of legislation that will benefit the public:

1. Paper Reduction Initiative

This bill, introduced by Delegate Christian Miele of Baltimore County, would reduce the volume of documents stored by the Registers by over 90%. For almost 20 years now, these offices scan, image, and archive all papers they receive. Using these high-resolution, secure images, documents can be easily reproduced. This legislation would allow the Registers to dispose of the original paper files, except any wills or codicils (amendments to wills). This enormous reduction will save the state – Archives and the Registers – and local jurisdictions – which are required to house the Registers in their courthouse – time and money in terms of storage, equipment, and maintenance.

2. Ending Use of Certified Mail in Probate

For many years, state law requires that notices given to interested persons in estate matters be sent by certified mail. In Fiscal Year 2015, the Registers of Wills collected over $230,000 in certified mail charges from estates that could have otherwise gone to a decedent’s loved ones. This legislation would allow for these notices to be given by first-class mail, like most other legal notices, saving Maryland families hundreds of thousands of dollars and saving the Registers countless hours of staff time compiling and mailing these notices.

3. Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

As we manage our finances and actually have assets that exist in the digital world, the law must adjust to this trend and enable the fiduciaries – personal representatives, trustees, guardians, etc. – to be able to access these assets. Often when a loved one passes away, the family feels powerless or lost when dealing with the decedent’s online profile – bank accounts, assets, social media, and more. This legislation would provide explicit statutory authority for personal representatives (ie. executors) to be able to access the decedent’s assets and manage their affairs appropriately.

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Byron Reflects on Five-Year Anniversary as Register

Five years ago today I was sworn in as Register of Wills for Howard County. As I think back, I’m reminded of my family and friends who were with me from the beginning and the new friends and supporters I’d met during that campaign. We proved that a grassroots campaign inspired by compassion and service to others could defy the odds, overcome prejudice and win.

Today I also reflect on what I’ve done with this tremendous opportunity. Five years ago I hit the ground running and haven’t slowed down. My goal has been to provide the people of Howard County with the kind of government they deserve – efficient, caring, and progressive. With the support of the dedicated professionals I am fortunate to work with, my office provides just that. We ensure that grieving families get the answers and guidance they need when they need it most, and leave here knowing that we care. I speak with public employees, seniors, college students, church groups, and civic organizations to give them the tools to plan for the future and protect their families. I have led and continue to lead efforts to implement statewide reforms to make probate in Maryland faster and fairer. And I have been committed to making this office operate – from accounting to communication, procurement, technology and otherwise – at peak efficiency.

Going forward, there’s a lot of work to be done to better serve the people of Howard County and the state of Maryland. And there is a lot of work to be done to restore confidence in government. I’ll keep doing my part by working hard and delivering results.

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Byron Re-Elected With 73,537 Votes

Facing no primary or general election opponent, Byron was officially re-elected as Register of Wills for Howard County with 73,357 votes – one of the highest vote totals for any candidate in Howard County history. “I am extremely grateful for the confidence the people of Howard County have placed in me to serve them in a second term as Register. There is much more work to be done to enhance our technological capabilities and improve the legal framework for probate to make this process easier, fairer, and less expensive for all Maryland families. I intend to continue to lead the efforts to accomplish these goals.”

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