This was a fun interview and I think it covers a lot of the issues in this election. I’ve had a chance to speak with Taj Battle-Lockhart at early voting in Waldorf (that was a good discussion too) and I’m now pretty sure the standard she is using for reading proficiency is college readiness proficiency, which in Maryland stands at 40% and in Charles County just a little higher. Our best performing school, La Plata, has a reading proficiency of 54% with an additional 26% approaching expectations. St. Charles has the lowest college readiness with with reading proficiency of 32% with an additional 27% approaching expectations. This somewhat emphasizes my point that people are moving to Charles County for good schools since St. Charles has many newly arrived students who have not fully benefited from the lower grade (elementary and middle school) education within the county.
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Maryland Independent Voter Guide Entry (updated)
I am running for Charles County Commissioner President because Peter Murphy did not win his primary. I feel strongly that Charles County has moved towards good governance over the last four years and should my Democratic opponent be elected in the general election, we will move backwards to higher taxes, irresponsible budgeting, and sly backroom deals. What Commissioners Murphy, Stewart and Robinson have achieved in gaining a top bond rating for the county really can’t be overestimated. Beyond being a big piece in keeping property tax rates from increasing, that bond rating shows Charles County is a reliable partner for other counties, for state agencies and for grant making organizations. I intend to keep it.
It was gratifying to be seated at the CCNAACP Candidate Forum next to my Republican opponent. I learned more about his views and can say that we agree that bringing business to Charles County is how to attack both our high tax rate and traffic problems. But, I find that he is too cautious regarding capital investments. I’m running as a cheapskate too, but as a Green, I know that this year of having our roads underwater will return. We need to address infrastructure, especially that stressed by stronger precipitation events. I also did not hear my opponent address the upward pressure on property tax rates, how we got here, sprawl development. He wants to repeal the Watershed Conservation DIstrict (WCD), I don’t. And, I want to limit sprawl growth further by addressing unrealistic elements in our Comprehensive Plan such as reliance on desalination of Potomac River water. That water will only get saltier and more expensive to use for drinking water. We must reduce growth projections.
I had many questions about my Democratic opponent but he did not come to the Forum. I do find serious problems with his record and his positions (where can I understand them). In the League of Women Voters Guide (linked above), he also wants to repeal the WCD, a new engine for clean economic growth in the County. He supports Light Rail to Waldorf, as do I, but seems to want to throw more money after the so-called Tech Park. Don’t let him near that! He wrecked the budget the last time. It is strange that he claims to support education when teachers are still recovering from that fiasco. Some of his positions seem very out of touch. He wants to reinstate a Housing Authority in the County that was never disestablished according to its director Rita Wood. He wants to have a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) office that also already exists.* He wants to have a summer youth employment program that has already been improved from the old patronage days with higher paying resume building internships that give our young people a leg up. And, if, by alternative farming, he means growing cannabis, why not just come out and say it the way we Greens do**. The question there is: would we be competitive as we used to be with tobacco?
Both my opponents seem hesitant and sometimes faltering to me. We know where the world is going, towards 100% clean green energy. I say save money and improve our students’ readiness to learn by switching to electric busses (there’s $75.7 million out there to help). I say bring 10,000 high paying jobs in renewable energy to Charles County and fix our traffic and taxes with prosperity. I say vote for me (please).
*After this writing it became clear that the situation is actually worse. Regarding the Housing Authority, my opponent wants to give a board of volunteers authority to borrow on behalf of the County with no accountability to elected officials. That kind of irresponsibility will hurt our bond rating and increase the upward pressure on property taxes. Regarding the MBE office, my opponent wants to shift from a goal to a set aside. Such a change would not help with encouraging minority business ownership and would make filling county procurement difficult. As an example, the Governor’s Office states that Maryland is meeting its MBE goal on average over a few years but waivers are sometimes needed. In 2017, 18 waivers were requested for school construction. With a set aside rather than a goal, there may be no flexibility to build schools while minority owned businesses scale up to take on such projects. My opponent’s tendency to feud with the Superintendent of Schools has already hurt Charles County students badly. Lets not look for new ways to hurt them by breaking a program that is working now.
**I’m still not clear on this but it looks as though my opponent may have mistaken a greenhouse in New Hampshire for Loudon County in Virginia, unless he thinks vineyards, which even Noah cultivated, are somehow alternative rather than traditional agriculture. Either way, the WCD is zoned for both greenhouses and wineries so his positions seem to contradict themselves.