Brooke Lierman is Maryland’s first female comptroller


Comptroller Brooke E. Lierman (D) on Monday became the first woman in Maryland history to hold the job and took the oath of office at a ceremony in Annapolis.

Lierman, a civil and disability attorney from Baltimore, was elected chief tax collector in a landslide victory in November, the first woman independently elected to state office in Maryland.

Lierman was part of a historic, barrier-breaking Democratic ticket that includes Anthony G. Brown, Maryland’s first black attorney general, and the state’s first black governor, Gov.-elect Wes Moore, to be inaugurated Wednesday.

Up until this week, only white men had served in those jobs.

Moore’s running mate, Aruna Miller, also becomes Maryland’s first immigrant woman to hold statewide office.

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“I’m really excited and honored to be the first woman,” Lierman, 43, said in an interview last week. “Honestly, I’m thrilled to be part of a team … that breaks multiple barriers in an election cycle.”

In addition to overseeing approximately $16 billion in annual tax collection and paying the state’s bills, the Comptroller oversees the administration of several tax-related programs and information technology. The post has one of three votes on the influential Board of Public Works, which oversees state contracts, and wields wide-ranging powers that Lierman has pledged to use in new ways to promote financial equality.

Lierman explained that “when we all do better, we all do better” is her guiding principle, and said she wants to make sure black women who start a business get the same credit terms as their white male counterpart, who does Maryland “can never be a truly great state until Baltimore City sees its full potential.”

She was introduced Monday by an iconic Maryland glass ceiling breaker, former US Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, the state’s first and only elected senator.

Mikulski said Lierman “will watch over the state funds. Brooke will be a guard dog and she will bark when necessary and bite when necessary.”

As Lierman listened alongside her husband, Eben Hänsel, and their two children, Teddy, 10, and Eliza, 5, Mikulski called her a fighter.

“She will take care of the macroeconomic issues – government revenues, the stability of pensions. But she’s also going to worry about the macaroni and cheese issues, those issues that affect you,” she said.

Lierman had promised voters she would advocate for fair tax policies, including proactively reaching out to seniors or families who are not claiming tax credits for which they qualify. She wants to upgrade the state tax systems to make it easier for entrepreneurs and work to ensure that state finances are used in a more climate-friendly manner.

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She is a two-term former state delegate who quickly rose to leadership, campaigning for high-profile transportation policy and college athlete compensation bills, among many other issues.

“My focus each day will be how we can help build communities that are just, resilient and prosperous in every corner of the state,” Lierman said last week.

“I look forward to doing the work for Marylanders in each county, but also making sure Maryland women are heard, whether it’s a black woman opening a retail store or a Latino woman who runs a restaurant, or a retired nurse who wants to make sure she can afford to stay in Maryland,” Lierman said. “I want to make sure the women of Maryland are heard, and I will have their back.”

Lierman takes over from Peter Franchot (D), who decided against a fifth term and instead ran for governor last year.

Franchot finished third in a crowded peloton. In a private ceremony prior to the dedication, Lierman presented Franchot with the first of their “Challenge Coins,” an engraved commemoration that Maryland’s auditors have been awarding for decades. Franchot hugged her and encouraged her to “remain independent”.

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