CONTACT: District 4

Council Chair Deb Jung’s Statement on CR22-2024 Calling for a Ceasefire in Gaza

Ellicott City, MD (February 5, 2024) Tonight the Howard County Council voted on CR22-2024, sponsored by Councilmember Liz Walsh, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. CR22-2024 failed with a vote of three to one. Prior to tonight’s session, a majority of the Council chose not to have a public hearing on CR22-2024, and instead the resolution was added to the agenda for final consideration. Per the Howard County Council Rules of Procedure, public hearings on resolutions are not automatic.

An adaptation of Council Chair Deb Jung’s remarks from the session tonight follows:

Like many of the residents in the Council chamber tonight, I hope and pray for a ceasefire that results in a lasting peace in the region. For the first time in many long and painful days we are learning that an agreement between the two sides is being considered. While I sincerely hope these efforts succeed, I believe the use of a County Council resolution is inappropriate for such an issue and will likely create unnecessary division in our community without any real possibility of advancing the prospects of peace.

I appreciate the heartfelt efforts by those in Howard County who have expressed a wide range of viewpoints on the contents of this resolution. More than 800 emails have been received by my office on both sides of this issue and are now part of the permanent public record on this resolution. Many of you have shared directly with me your feelings of anguish as well as personal stories of lost loved ones. Our community is inundated with sadness, fear, and outrage.
I’ve been asked by supporters of the resolution to recognize the humanity of the Palestinians, to stop the suffering of innocent people, and to stand for peace. I have been asked by opponents of the resolution to include language about the return of the hostages and the horrific events that took place on October 7.

There is extreme upset from all sides about the human toll of this conflict and the continuing violence, but how to bring about peace is a matter of much disagreement. We cannot order the federal government by Council resolution to do anything. The County Council is not, and should not, be in the business of issuing opinions or directives on international conflicts. We lack the expertise and should focus on local government matters. We were elected to help oversee the Howard County government, not President Biden, Congress, or the State Department.

Finally, I have spent my five plus years on the County Council trying to build a stronger community based on shared values of civility and inclusion. I am very concerned that an open forum on this resolution will expose everyone involved to hate, blame, and anger that run counter to the desire to be heard. I will not contribute to more division, more hurt, more fear, and more rancor in our community by holding public hearings on this resolution.

There are other ways for individuals to display their compassion and concern. If Councilmembers choose to make a statement or sign a letter, then it is an individual choice. County Executive Ball will issue a letter that addresses many of your concerns and his newly formed Interfaith Advisory Council will be holding a public forum on the conflict in Gaza.

For all of the reasons I have discussed, my vote on the resolution is “no.”