Maryland’s first woman comptroller takes oath of office

Brooke Elizabeth Lierman took the oath of office as State Comptroller on the steps of the Goldstein Treasury Building in Annapolis Monday, officially becoming the first woman to hold that powerful post.

Lierman, a Democrat and former state delegate, spoke of a mission-focused accounting firm focused on inclusion and justice for all Marylanders. She praised a lesson from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the interdependence of humanity, a recognition also that her inauguration fell on a day the nation honors the birth of the slain civil rights leader.

“When we’re all better off, we’re all better off,” Lierman said, echoing one of her campaign slogans. “And that core belief will be the guiding principle of our Court of Auditors.”

It’s possible to do better, Lierman said, “if we have an ally and an advocate in our state government.”

Political allies surrounded Lierman on stage and guest speakers, including former US Senator Barbara Mikulski, praised her before the official inauguration. The Baltimore Democrat broke her own slice of the gender barrier as the first woman to win a statewide election when elected to the US Senate in 1986 and the second woman in history to serve in both houses of Congress.

Mikulski described Lierman as a fighter, someone who stood up for the people and “watched over” government funds.

“Brooke will be a watchdog. And she will bark if necessary and bite if necessary,” said Mikulski, who received applause and shouts from the crowd.

Outgoing Republican Governor Larry Hogan took the oath of office. Governor-elect Wes Moore, who takes office on Wednesday, attended. Prince George’s County Executive Secretary Angela Alsobrooks applauded Lierman’s performance. Faith leaders prayed for the success of Lierman’s tenure. And the Walt Whitman High School Chamber Choir, for which Lierman once sang when he was a student at the school, performed.

After Lierman took the oath, hundreds of spectators rose to applaud from rows of black folding chairs that stretched out onto Calvert Street.

Court of Auditors staff attended the inauguration. Among them is Sherray Miller from Annapolis, who has worked in the Court’s collections office for 33 years. Miller said she looks forward to working with a woman.

“I think she’s going to take this comptroller’s office in a different direction,” said Miller, standing alongside colleagues Kesiah Archer and Vanita Miles. All three women agreed that change was underway.

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“And we will stand behind her so that she can do a great job,” Miller said.

Lierman campaign volunteers Walter Robinson and his mother Kristie Farley were driving in from Baltimore City. The couple had distributed yard signs and flyers in their neighborhoods. Farley volunteered her time because she said Lierman “focuses on problems; She had solutions.”

Before her inauguration, Lierman presented outgoing Comptroller Peter Franchot with the first “Lierman coin,” a commemorative gesture. During his tenure, Franchot was a prolific coin dealer.

Franchot assisted Lierman in her transition as honorary co-chair. She also thanked the decades-long official in her speech.

“I am so grateful to you for your leadership and years of work,” she told the Democrat. “And I still have your cell phone number on speed dial.”

Before Lierman in the auditor’s seat were 33 white men who served as early as 1851.

The State Comptroller sits on the three-person State Public Works Committee, which approves contracts, decides how state revenue is spent and serves as the state’s chief financial officer.

The auditor’s responsibilities include forecasting revenue and collecting taxes, and generally overseeing the tax affairs of the state. Article VI of the state constitution, which prescribes the duties of the auditor, refers to the officer as a man.

Lierman, a former two-term delegate who represented Baltimore City’s 46th District in the Maryland General Assembly, won the November election with more than 61% of the vote, defeating Republican Barry Glassman, Harford County executive.

During her campaign, the civil and disability rights advocate pledged to streamline tax collection systems for individuals and businesses. She also pledged to push for transparency and accessibility in the state’s procurement process.

“We will focus every day on leaving our children a state that is fairer, more resilient and more prosperous than the one we inherited,” she said. “We will endure and the robe of destiny we weave will be strong. Enough for generations to come.”

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