ELKTON — Danielle Hornberger, a county liaison for U.S. Rep. Andy Harris and the wife of a state delegate, launched her campaign for Cecil County Executive on Thursday night, after weeks of cryptic social media hints that she was planning to run for an unnamed office.
“I’m tired of being lied to,” she told the Whig. “I’m tired of my taxes going up and being told they’re not. I listen to people and I hear they’re struggling. The truth is, it’s tough when your [paycheck] is going to taxes, and as a conservative woman, I believe we don’t need to raise them to live here.”
Hornberger’s declaration came at a fundraiser at Sinking Springs Farms last night that played to the hype, asking people to “give it their best shot” to guess where her political ambitions lie.
Rumors swirled weeks after she filed paperwork for a campaign committee with the state Board of Elections.
Hornberger’s filing sets up a crowded contest for county executive, as she will face off against incumbent Alan McCarthy and Rising Sun farmer and Maryland Department of Commerce employee Ewing McDowell in the April primary.
In a fiery speech before supporters Thursday night, Hornberger vowed to fight against County Executive Alan McCarthy’s tax and fee increases for Cecil County families.
Although she has never held public office, Hornberger believes her experience as a taxpayer is valuable insight into how the county is run — and the great need for collaboration on a state and federal level.
Hornberger, 38, is a community liaison with Rep. Harris’s office in Cecil County who primarily deals with Social Security and Internal Revenue Service constituent cases. Prior to that, she worked as a substitute teacher in Cecil County Public Schools and later as an educator with NorthBay Adventure Camp.
Hornberger grew up in Waldorf, and came to North East in 2010 after she married Del. Kevin Hornberger, R-Cecil. Over time, she was refreshed by the county’s rural character compared to how Waldorf was built out.
“When I first moved here, my grandmother would call and ask ‘Are you OK up there?’ I’d go, ‘Grandma, I love it … this county is just like Charles County before the urban sprawl at its not-finest. It reminded me of home, when I was little,” she told the Whig.
Hornberger’s platform focuses on what the county needs versus desires when it comes to planning operating and capital budgets. She also promises to roll back the property and income tax increase under McCarthy’s first year in office and the sewer rate hike in his second year, calling it her top priority if elected.
On economic development, Hornberger wants to give more consideration for protecting the county’s rural spaces when it comes to growing businesses.
“There’s a way to do it and retain Cecil County’s character,” she said. “That’s why a lot of us moved here. We didn’t move here because it’s on the Route 40 corridor.”
When it comes to leveraging the budget for education, Hornberger explained she does not believe spending equates to student success.
Hornberger is committed to finding solutions to solve the opioid epidemic. She believes that a three-pronged approach needs to be refined, with law enforcement, improved treatment to battle substance use disorder and increased opportunity through quality education and more jobs.
She believes her work with Harris’s office has honed two skills that would guide her if she is elected into office: patience, and an ear for listening.
“I cannot stress how many times people have told me that I was the first person who listened to them,” she said. “Listening is part of collaboration, and I don’t know if there’s a lot of collaboration going on within county government and from the county to the state and federal levels.”
Hornberger said she would be willing to resign from Harris’s office if elected and put all her energy into serving the people as county executive.
Regarding her husband’s role if she were to be elected to the highest office in the county, Hornberger said it would not hold any influence over her duties.
“We need to stop talking about who my husband is,” she said. “I am me, and I have my own opinions and my own thoughts.”
Ultimately, she said while out on the campaign trail she would stay true to her core principles and not get lost to the political machine.
“I’m only in this today knowing that good people can get elected and remain good people while serving in office,” she said.