A tandem from among the much larger number of Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates seeking the Democratic nomination participated in a forum Saturday, April 30 to outline their proposed policies representative of a progressive agenda.
The four candidates for governor and one for lieutenant governor collectively agreed with Our Revolution Maryland, the host of the one-hour virtual session, that health care counts as “a human right,” climate change exists and that now serves as the time to reassess the criminal justice system.
One pushback came from former Prince George’s County Council member Monique Anderson-Walker when responding to a question about why gubernatorial candidate and state Comptroller Peter Franchot doesn’t support the $3.8 billion Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education plan.
“Peter supports the Blueprint – the challenge is how it’s going to be paid for,” said Anderson-Walker, Franchot’s running mate. “That should always be [on the forefront] as a fiscal leader.”
Former Prince George’s County Rushern L. Baker III, former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, former U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr. and former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez participated in the forum. A total of 10 Democratic candidates are running in the July 19 primary election.
Participants in Saturday’s forum agreed in their support for teachers with each summarizing how they would retain educators in classrooms.
King said the state should allow class sizes as part of collective bargaining for teachers. He gave an example of a Prince George’s school counselor overseeing 800 students.
“Those working condition issues have to be addressed,” he said.
Baker said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem for teachers to receive resources. He said he would implement a holistic approach with the health, transportation, or economic development agencies to assist “our K through 12 education system . . . that’s what I did as county executive.”
Anderson-Walker agreed with King on collective bargaining for teachers. She also said teachers should receive “flex-time” to work with students in small groups, which teachers did in providing online and, to a lesser extent, when directing in-person instruction during the previous school year.
Jain listed a number of proposals he would implement: forgive student debt for educators who teach in Maryland for at least six years, offer free public transit and allow community college students with associate degrees to become eligible to take teacher certification exams.
“We should give them a raise,” Perez said about teachers.
He added the state should provide mental health and other services for both students and teachers. In addition, he wants to see an increase in teacher diversity that would match the student population.
The final question for candidates addressed their proposed actions or form of legislation that demonstrates their support for Our Revolution Maryland and its progressive values.
Baker pointed to campaign finance reform, adding that he and running mate Montgomery County Council member Nancy Navarro are utilizing the state’s public financing system.
“You can’t speak truth to power or change a system if you’re taking money from the very people who are going to influence you when you get into office,” he said.
Jain replied with how he’s working to make political participation both more inclusive and accessible.
“We’re going to win because of our focus in engaging more Marylanders in the process, encountering volunteers and one-on-one voter content,” he said.
Anderson-Walker didn’t highlight a specific policy but said the culmination of work she’s done what Franchot has done and continues to do as comptroller “are exemplary of what it will take to build upon in order to achieve generational wealth, health, education and economic development opportunities for us all.”
Income and equality count as two critical areas for Perez, particularly with America being a nation of immigrants and “[former President] Donald Trump not liking that.”
With the various challenges a governor must face, he said the state’s next leader must be “the multi-tasker in chief.”
If elected governor, King said he would ask big companies and those who receive at least one million dollars annually to “pay their fair share” toward resources in child care, health care and education.
“I look forward to working with Our Revolution Maryland to ensure that we not only win in July but that we win in November and then come to Annapolis in January with a strong, progressive mandate for change,” he said.
The second, four-year term for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan expires in January. Hogan has endorsed former Maryland labor secretary Kelly Schulz, a Republican candidate who worked in Hogan’s administration. Del. Daniel Cox, who represents parts of Carroll and Frederick counties, has received support from Trump. The other two Republican candidates include former state Del. Robin Ficker of Montgomery County and Joe Werner of Baltimore County.
Because Maryland primaries are only open for Democrats and Republicans, two other people registered their candidacies for the general election: Libertarian candidate David Lashar of Annapolis and Independent candidate Kyle Sefcik from Montgomery County.