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Democratic candidates for Maryland governor agree change is needed –

by Audrey Partington
Special to The Greater Olney News
A standing-room-only crowd gathered at Sandy Spring Museum on a cold January day to hear three candidates for governor of Maryland discuss their visions for the state.
The Jan. 14 Meet and Greet was sponsored by the Advocacy Subcommittee of the Sandy Spring Museum’s Board of Director.
“Sandy Spring has been politically involved since its founding more than 200 years ago,” said board member Jennifer Zucker, noting the Quakers’ concern for peace, justice and equality.
Through events such as the candidates’ gathering, the museum seeks to strengthen its relationship with local and state officials, Zucker said.
The seven Democratic candidates were invited to speak at the event, along with incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is running for re-election to a second term.
Democratic candidates Benjamin Jealous, Kevin Kamenetz and Alec Ross participated. They agree that a change in political leadership is imperative if improvements are to be made to education, transportation and economic growth in the state.
“Things have taken a turn in the wrong direction,” said Jealous, former head of the NAACP.
With deep family ties to Baltimore, Jealous envisions a state where the public schools get stronger, public colleges and housing are affordable, transportation infrastructure is improved, and small businesses thrive. To pay for those improvements, Jealous proposes the legalization of the adult use of cannabis and having the wealthy pay their fair share.
“The state needs to keep its promise about the use of the lottery money,” Jealous said.
People just want a state that is as great as its promise.”
Candidate Kamenetz, county executive of Baltimore County, addressed his concern with the incumbent’s policies.
“Gov. Hogan wants to privatize the schools … He doesn’t believe in public transportation … He promised that the state would not lose Fortune 500 companies,” he said.
Kamenetz noted that Baltimore City schools are without heat. Plans for Metro’s Purple Line have been watered down and is referred to by some as the “Lavender Line.” Discovery Communications, which has been located in Silver Spring since 2003, recently announced plans to move out of the state.
Kamenetz wants voters to judge candidates on their track record of experience as opposed to their promises. While his administration “inherited the demise of Bethlehem Steel,” he noted that Tradepoint Atlantic now occupies the former steel company’s site in Baltimore County.
He also noted his advocacy for Baltimore County Public Schools, which begin teaching Spanish in the fourth grade and have a graduation rate that exceeds the state average.
“All this without raising tax rates,” Kamenetz said.
Candidate Ross said the Democratic Party “needs new faces and new ideas.”
He added, “Take Gov. Hogan’s views and flip them and you have mine.”
The Baltimore County middle school teacher-turned-technology entrepreneur founded a global nonprofit company to help bridge the digital divide for low-income communities. His work on the Obama campaign led to serving as head of technology policy for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Clinton charged Ross with using technology to aid in the recovery effort. His campaign to text “Haiti” for a fee of $10 raised $40 million in three weeks.
“Government done well can make a difference in peoples’ lives,” said Ross, who pledged to “restore our values to Annapolis.”
The Democratic and Republican primaries will be held on June 26, followed by the general election on Nov. 6.
Candidates who declined the invitation to participate in the Jan. 14 event include incumbent Hogan (R); Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D); State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Dist. 18); Krishanti Vignarajah (D), a former policy aide to Michelle Obama; and James Shea (D), an attorney and former chair of Venable LLP.

Sandy Spring Museum is planning a Meet and Greet in February featuring the candidates for county executive, but that date had not been chosen by The Greater Olney News press time. Watch for the date on the museum’s website and The Greater Olney News Facebook page.

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