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As someone who went to Maryland public schools from kindergarten to college at the University of Maryland, I know that a quality, free public education is the backbone of a successful society. I am committed to an equitable education system that gives every child a chance to succeed, no matter their background or individual circumstances.

I have heard our community members share their experiences with overcrowded schools, concern for physical improvements to school buildings and the need to address challenges outside of the school building that they greatly affect children and their educational growth. I strongly support universal pre-K and quality summer programs at no cost to help lessen the learning gap that begins at such a young age. With close family members who teach in Maryland public schools, I know we need teacher collaboration and giving educators a voice in policy decisions in order to spend more time and energy on students and teaching, as opposed to standardized testing.

I have been lucky to have many wonderful teachers impact my life in a positive way. Mrs. Lillquist, who not only taught my English class but also served as our class advisor. Mrs. Henshaw, who pushed me to never give up. Captain Thomas who coached the basketball team. Mrs. RT who inspired me to learn more about our history. Mr. Lesh who helped get me interested in the workings of our government, and many many more. I will work hard to ensure that all our children enjoy the same opportunities to succeed in school and in life.

Traffic and Transportation

As I talk to people in our district, I constantly hear about the stress that traffic brings. Anyone who’s ever been on the beltway or Baltimore Ave (Rt. 1) during rush hour or the B/W parkway pretty much any time won’t find it hard to believe that we have some of the worst traffic in the country. Time spent in traffic is time that would be better spent in one’s community with family or neighbors.

We can’t just approach this issue on a city-by-city or county-by-county basis. We need to have a sensible, comprehensive regional plan to address our transportation challenges. Public transportation is essential, as many people want to be able to take good, quality public transportation when possible. Those who don’t take public transit will have easier commutes with fewer cars on the road. And, it will help bring more quality jobs to our region.

We especially need to invest in our infrastructure, including metro, buses, MARC, and walking and biking trails. Less time traveling means a higher quality of living, less air pollution, increased productivity and happiness. I’d like to spend more time with my family and less time sitting in traffic. I know you would, too.

The Environment

I care about our environment, and I know many other candidates say they do too. But the planet can’t speak for itself.

Maryland has passed several laws that require a certain percentage of our power to come from renewable resources. That sounds good. But in 2011, Maryland passed a bill that would count trash incinerators as a renewable source – putting it on par with wind and solar – even though trash incinerators pollute our air at an enormous rate!

Why would they do such a thing? The same day that the then-Governor announced he would sign the incinerator bill into law, a trash incinerator company wrote a six figure check to benefit a major Democratic Party group he led. And this was after the same company and others had given direct donations to several key politicians.Maybe this was just a coincidence, but we shouldn’t even have to wonder if our politicians are being influenced by campaign contributions.

We can’t afford to have polices and politicians that put the interests of a few over the many. That’s why I will never take money from corporations or PACs so that you will never have to wonder if I am representing you or special interests.  You can count on me to fight to protect our environment!

1 http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-dga-fundraising-figures-20111127-story.html

Fair Elections

As a college student, I once offered to write a $20 check to someone I supported. But the candidate told me not to bother. He already had a lot of big donors to finance his race. The message was clear: my money and my support wasn’t as important as that of big donors.

Our democracy is under attack. Big money – especially from corporations and Political Action Committees (PACs) – has an outsized voice and power in our system. I’m running, because it’s time to put power back in the hands of “We the People”.

I’ve been working for fair elections locally, and we need to offer matching funds for candidates who put the people first and agree to forgo corporations, PAC’s and other big donors so that they can be more responsive and representative of the people in their districts and state.

We cannot rely on incumbents and those who have benefited from the big donor system to make these essential changes. We need someone who has run a principled campaign that isn’t beholden to big donors. We can no longer afford a government that doesn’t represent us.

A New Way of Voting

Election after election, people feel forced to cast their vote for one of the two best known candidates out of fear that a vote for anyone else might be a ‘wasted’ vote. I will push for a new method of voting: ranked choice (or, sometimes called instant runoff voting). Ranked choice voting lets you rank candidates in order of preference, allowing you to vote for the candidate that most shares your values. Here’s how it works1.

Ballots are initially counted based on everyone’s top choice. If no one wins a majority of votes, the candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated, and their votes are redistributed to the voter’s second choice. Candidates continue to get eliminated until a candidate reaches a 50% plus 1 vote threshold.

In a three way race between Candidates A, B, and C, let’s say you like Candidate A the best. Candidate B would be OK, but you really don’t want Candidate C to win. If the media reports that candidate A has no realistic chance to win, you might feel pressured under our current system to vote for Candidate B instead, in order to prevent Candidate C from gaining a plurality of votes.

Ranked choice voting would allow you to vote first for Candidate A, knowing that if no one gets a majority and Candidate A has the lowest vote total, your vote would then go to Candidate B. When the results of the election are announced, the public will know exactly how much support all three candidates – and their ideas – actually received.

This system is already used in several jurisdictions around the country. It’s time Marylanders get the chance to always vote their conscience.

1For more information on ranked choice voting, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

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