PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Hogan Previews Agenda for Second Term

ANNAPOLIS — One day after Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s historic victory for a second four-year term in a largely Democratic state, he laid out plans to continue with the same formula.

Hogan said Wednesday during a press conference inside the State House that his administration would continue to seek tax cuts, environmental protection of the Chesapeake Bay and accountability in local school systems.

Most important is working in a bipartisan fashion, stressed Hogan, who became the first Republican re-elected as Maryland governor in 64 years.

“From day one, we tried to govern differently,” said the governor, who was joined Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. “I didn’t care what side of the aisle the ideas came from. I didn’t govern as a Republican. I was a governor for all the people.”

Hogan also mentioned more accountability in local school systems, which was a major topic during this year’s Democratic primary for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III after a state audit discovered county staffers changed grades and didn’t provide proper documentation to schools for some students to graduate.

On Sept. 4, the first day of school in the county, Hogan announced an executive order to create an Office of Education Accountability, which will oversee items such as grading requirements, budgets and child abuse.

Hogan used his everyman persona to appeal to voters, especially during his first year in office when he publicly detailed his battle with cancer and assisted in handling the Baltimore City riots in the wake of a Black man’s death while in police custody.

Hogan received 30,845 votes in the city four years ago when he defeated former Lt. Gov. and current Rep. Anthony Brown (D). On Tuesday, Hogan picked up 54,136 votes in Baltimore, a 75 percent increase.

The Maryland Democratic Party pushed the message to voters that another Hogan term would effectively be a vote for President Donald Trump. It worked in local races, where all GOP incumbents lost in county executive races in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties.

A few hours after the press conference, judges in U.S. District Court ruled a map of the 6th Congressional District as unconstitutional and that a state panel must redraw a new map within two years. The current area stretches from parts of Montgomery and Frederick counties to western Maryland.

“It will redress a serious, ongoing constitutional injury and enable a large number of Maryland voters to more fully participate in congressional elections,” the court document stated. “We are confident that the state, if it acts diligently, will have little trouble devising an alternative map in time for the 2020 election.”

As for Tuesday’s election, Hogan won 21 out of 24 jurisdictions. Although Democratic challenger and former NAACP President Ben Jealous won Prince George’s County with 209,485 votes, Hogan garnered 83,595 in the county, a 156 percent increase from four years ago when he and Rutherford received about 32,620 in the state’s second-largest and majority-Black jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, up to 10 precincts in the county either ran low on or completely out of paper ballots Tuesday, said Elections Administrator Alisha Alexander.

The wait for more ballots caused voter delays that lasted for several hours.

Alexander said Thursday she calculated the number of ballots used in the 2016 presidential general election as a mark for this year’s midterm, which traditionally have lower voter turnouts than elections during presidential years.

“I apologize to the voters of Prince George’s County in my negligence,” she said. “By making that decision, I fell short in some precincts. Everybody did get to vote that was in line, but they should not have to endure those wait times. This was completely human error and no attempt to suppress votes. I’m a Prince Georgian and I take voting very seriously.”

In future elections, Alexander said the allocation of ballots will be based on the number of registered voters in a particular precinct. Some polling locations are highly populated that others, such as Clinton United Methodist Church represents the most registered voters in the county’s District 9 area.

According to unofficial figures, voters cast ballots at 288 precincts. The county will certify the figures by Nov. 19.

Meanwhile, State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, who ran unopposed to become the first woman elected as county executive, on Wednesday opened a transition office in Largo to begin preparation for her administration.

Several subcommittees will be organized to include: budget and finance; central services; economic development; education; environment; transportation and sustainability; health and human services; Department of Housing and Community Development; human resources; information technology; and public engagement.

A preliminary report on the reorganization is expected as early as January with a final version issued in February.

Alsobrooks, who will be officially sworn in next month, posted an introductory statement at  www.alsobrookstransition.com.

For more information, call the transition team office at 301-583-9910.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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