Tuesday, November 2, will roust record numbers of voters, pollsters are predicting. One hundred and ten million of us are expected to vote in this year’s presidential election.
Floods of newly registered voters are feeding that electoral surge, but they are effect rather than cause. As you’ll read in this week’s editorial, passions are running high. Committed, partisans are convinced that the future of the nation, indeed the world, rides on the outcome of this election.
Who’s going to win? That’s up to you.
Undecided voters are going to name the victor, according to Maryland polltaker Patrick Gonzalez of Annapolis, who’s predicting that eight to 10 percent of us will “go huge one way or the other.”
Whether George W. Bush remains president or John F. Kerry succeeds him is the big choice you and those other millions of Americans make November 2.
But as they say, all politics is local.
So the political contests right here in your own backyard have just as much — if not more — impact on your life and on the life of Chesapeake Bay.
Each of us will get to choose who gets hired to fill one of Maryland’s two seats in the Senate, deciding whether we’re satisfied with feisty Barbara Mikulski or ready for new blood — as challengers E.J. Pipkin, a Republican state senator, and several third-party candidates hope.
As we do every two years, each of us will also vote on who we send to represent our district in the U.S. Congress. Incumbents seek reelection in all four districts within our readership area. Three of the four are veterans: Republican Wayne Gilchrest in the First, Democrat Ben Cardin in the Third, and Democrat Steny Hoyer in the Fifth. Neophyte Dutch Ruppersberger, Democrat and former Baltimore County executive, faces his first test since his election two years ago.
To help you make choices that are in your best interest — and the Bay’s — when you go to vote November 2, we’ve asked the candidates to speak to you directly on three points relevant to Chesapeake Bay and beyond.
In bringing these responses to you, we’ve edited for grammatical accuracy and, to fairly share space, length. Because of the demands on candidates’ time, we’ve asked only three questions. But in answering, they’ve revealed their motivations, their strengths and their goals.
We hope this Guide helps you match your vote with the candidates who match your values. Let us know.
Sandra Olivetti Martin, Bay Weekly Publisher and Editor
1. How does your experience help your district?
2. What next step do you propose to restore Chesapeake Bay?
3. Define a key problem for your district and what you’ll do to resolve it.
Only one can win
Barbara Mikulski: Senator
1. Every day, I take the concerns of Marylanders and our communities to the United States Senate with me. As a senior member of the Senate, I have a track record of successfully fighting for Maryland’s fair share. My work has positioned me to continue to be effective for our state in the future. For example, as the vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Environmental Protection Agency, I put money in the federal checkbook every year for the Chesapeake Bay Program and other critical initiatives like oyster reseeding, crab research and grants to community groups that work to clean up the Bay.
2. One of my top priorities to clean up the Bay is reducing nitrogen from old, outdated sewage treatment facilities. That’s why I worked to secure $45 million in federal grants to help more than 30 communities on the Bay and its tributaries upgrade their water and sewer infrastructure. I will keep fighting, if re-elected, to make sure there is a federal investment in this important initiative. I will also continue to seek innovative new ways to jump-start the restoration of the Bay, building on projects to restore crabs, native oysters and other vital species to healthy populations.
3. One of the biggest factors driving the rising cost of healthcare is the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. I want to go back to the Senate to fight for real solutions that help Maryland families and Maryland seniors. First, we need to legalize reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada. Second, we need to fix the problems in the Medicare prescription drug bill. Medicare should be able to use the purchasing power of the federal government to negotiate lower prices. That’s what VA does, saving money for veterans and taxpayers.
E.J. Pipkin: Challenger
1. Growing up in Dundalk, the son of an electrician and cafeteria worker, and raising my own family in Maryland, I live the experiences so many Maryland working families face every day. We must lower taxes for working families, create new jobs and opportunities, increase drug benefits for our seniors and make sure our children receive the best education possible.
2. In 1999, as a private citizen, I opposed Gov. Parris Glendening’s efforts to dump dredge spoils from the Baltimore Harbor approach channels into Chesapeake Bay. Instead of just complaining about the dumping, I actually did something about it. I helped organize and lead a massive grassroots campaign. After two years of hard work, we succeeded in getting the dumping stopped. I will continue to work hard to protect the health of Chesapeake Bay.
3. As U.S. senator, I will continue to fight for more jobs, improved education, better healthcare for our seniors and a cleaner, healthier Chesapeake Bay.
Maria Allwine: Challenger
1. I am a native Marylander and am deeply committed to making this state and this country safer by making sure that changes in the direction of our foreign policy, such as the radical policy of pre-emptive war, are fully debated and agreed to in the Senate before any president goes to war. Marylanders have spent approximately $564 per person on this illegal war in Iraq. Mr. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy have translated into higher tuition at Maryland’s colleges, increased motor vehicle taxes and few jobs for the citizens of Maryland. So far, 12 Marylanders have died in Iraq. I want to make sure this does not happen again — unless it’s for a clearly defined and unassailable reason.
2. Two things regarding the Bay. First, wastewater treatment plants must be forced, by regulation if necessary, to upgrade their operating equipment so that they cease polluting the Bay. They are one of the three causes of the severe nitrogen pollution that is killing our beautiful Bay. Second, the Bush administration’s Healthy Skies Initiative, which is anything but, must be repealed. This has allowed fossil fuel plants to emit five times the level of mercury into the atmosphere (a major cause of Bay pollution) than allowed under the Clean Air Act.
3. Healthcare insurance and access to healthcare. I propose a plan for universal health insurance that is doable now. This would relieve the burden on employers by making insurance a single-payer, privately delivered, publicly financed and administered health insurance plan for all Americans. Healthcare costs, a broken, for-profit healthcare system controlled by insurance companies and a huge drain on our economy are primary pressures on middle and lower income families.
Raymond Bly: Challenger
1. My experience has led me to fishing in the Bay. I want not only the Bay but the entire country to once again be a place of beauty everywhere. Some foreign countries have outlawed littering and enforce it. If our streets were clean and our waters clean, we could once again be proud of our country and crime would go down. Let’s clean it all up.
2. We not only have to clean up the Bay, but all the rivers and creeks that empty into the Bay. Stricter EPA water and air pollution guidelines and hefty fines should be imposed on sewage treatment plants that regularly have spills into the Bay. We need to dredge the Bay and rivers nationwide to eliminate garbage from them.
3. I’m a nationalist — not a statesman. Stop rezoning people’s property and driving them out. This leads to over-building, more pollution and less pride in a family’s homestead. Get owner’s written permission before outlawing their existing use of the property. Read RayBly.com.
Libertarian ~ write-in
Robert Gemmill: Challenger
1. I have no experience working in the bureaucracy of government that has given us the current status of the United States, Maryland and Chesapeake Bay. I think that is exactly what will benefit my district. I have fresh new ideas. I am a big-picture thinker and I will work to solve the problems of the big picture, not put on a patch and not worry about it until the patch fails.
2. Encourage private citizens and organizations to take a leadership role in the restoration of Chesapeake Bay. I would encourage the creation of a credible and independent regulatory agency funded by concerned citizens, organizations and local government. I would also encourage the use of education to show the importance of all of us doing our part.
3. A key problem for not just my district but also many districts across the country is government-initiated welfare apathy. What I mean is individuals that are able to work, not working, but instead taking advantage of the government’s handout. The first thing that I would do is to work toward the abolishment of the federal welfare system, not just for individuals but also for companies that need to be weaned from the financial protection of the American taxpayer.
First Congressional District
Only one can win
Wayne Gilchrest: Congressman
1. My tenure in Congress has helped me gain the knowledge and insight to tackle critical issues like the federal budget, Social Security and Medicare. My position as a subcommittee chairman has enabled me to have a voice in key issues like fisheries management and oversight of our natural resources. I’ve developed personal relationships with the leadership in both parties, and I’ve traveled to almost every corner of this district, meeting constituents and learning their concerns.
2. As a co-chairman of the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force in Congress, I recently met with White House officials to ask for $130 million for programs that reduce nutrients coming into the Bay. I have worked hard to secure funding for wastewater treatment plants in my district, and I will continue to press to make those plants as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. I have also worked hard to preserve agriculture. As development increases in the watershed, funding conservation programs can help sustain agriculture, reduce urban sprawl — and save the Bay.
3. One key problem facing all of us is our energy policy. We’re all struggling with rising gas prices, and it’s been a huge financial burden for many small businesses. I believe we have to start moving away from our dependence on foreign oil and move to energy independence. I’ve been lobbying my colleagues in Congress to push for renewable energy and use technology to move us away from fossil fuels. I’ve also supported legislation raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, which makes our automobiles more fuel efficient. It’s going to take a concerted effort by the government and consumers to move us toward energy independence.
Kostas Alekaxis: Challenger
1. I am a businessman. I am a fiscal conservative, a social moderate and a registered Democrat. I am a strong believer in the values of capitalism and democracy. I have spent my adult life in private business, building value through entrepreneurship in several industries, including real estate, restaurant services and software.
I believe that I offer a valuable perspective, earned through hard work and broadened through education and experience, which can help cut through the theoretical planning and get to the practical implementation of solutions to the problems that continue to face our District, including much-needed real efforts to save the Bay and to reform our public school system.
2. You can’t study the Bay back to health. It is time for action.
The first step is for our district to get a voice in Congress. The Bay has been allowed to devolve to the condition it is primarily due to my opponent’s lack of understanding of the scope of the catastrophe that our district is now facing.
The citizens of the First Congressional District bear the brunt of the effects of the Bay pollution because we have the longest shoreline on the Bay; the majority of the dumping is from outside our district, and our cities and municipalities don’t have the resources to upgrade all the failed sewage treatment facilities that are poisoning our rivers and the Bay.
The second step is to provide the leadership to protect our district. This requires not only bringing in adequate federal resources to repair the sewage treatment facilities and provide adequate incentives to stop the agro/industrial runoff. It also requires forceful leadership and action toward the vigorous enforcement of the regulations that are violated by the other States in the watershed that continue to dump.
The third step is action and a tight restoration plan. There is no better or more fitting place in this country to begin to make a fundamental change in environmental policy that would define the role of the federal government in dealing with environmental disasters, like what is facing the Chesapeake Bay, than in this congressional district.
3. Saving Chesapeake Bay.
We have known since 1933 that the condition of the Bay is the result of uncontrolled dumping of untreated human waste, animal waste and industrial/agricultural runoff and waste. We now face an environmental disaster that has evolved over decades of abuse, cover-ups and inaction. The communities affected are powerless to act effectively without massive federal support, first because they don’t have the financial resources to deal with the primary causes of the problem. Federal enforcement of regulation is vital because there are too many contributing jurisdictions, not all directly suffering from the pollution.
Chesapeake Bay has become (according to a recent report in The Washington Post) “an open sewer.” Because of years of neglect we now find that every fish caught in the Bay comes with a health warning. My opponent’s claims of success in his efforts to improve the condition of the Bay have been proven false. Actual water samplings now prove that these reports based on computer model projections were false and that the Bay has in fact been getting worse, not cleaner. My opponent has been unable to explain this large discrepancy and, having made this his cause, now finds himself with no credibility on the issue.
You can’t study the Bay back to health. We now know with certainty that years of neglect — directly attributable to false science and ignorance followed by inaction — got us here. It is time to act, and the solution requires political will and leadership. The citizens of this district deserve better and should not be living in third-world conditions.
Second Congressional District
Only one can win
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger: Congressman
1. I am a freshman member of Congress but I have a long history of working in politics, close to 20 years, as Baltimore County executive for eight years, including during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and a Baltimore County councilman for nine years.
I believe politics is about relationships and trust. I know how to work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. I work to be a consensus builder who gets things done for Maryland and our country. Whether it is getting my Operation Hero Miles bill — which supports military personnel and their families — passed in Congress or introducing bi-partisan legislation that encourages Americans to drive hybrid vehicles, I am working for the residents of the Maryland Second Congressional District. As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I oversee the FBI, CIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies to keep our country safe.
2. Chesapeake Bay is one of our country’s most precious natural resources. It is an integral part of Maryland’s history and economy. We must take care of the Bay so future generations can enjoy it like we do, but cleaning it up is no easy task. Changes have to be made on the federal, state and local level if we are going to be successful.
First, we need to create more public awareness over what is happening to the Chesapeake Bay. Studies show that in recent years the condition of the Bay has not gotten any better and may be slightly declining. I believe we need to make sure that the public knows we are losing the battle to clean up the Bay.
At the federal level, the Bush administration has relaxed enforcement of the Clean Water Act. I think this is a mistake. The Clean Water Act is an important tool to enhance and preserve our country’s natural resources.
We need greater cooperation between local jurisdictions encompassing the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed: Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. The congressional delegations need to work together to increase funding for programs that help rebuild the oyster and crab populations, plant underwater grasses and reduce pollution.
We need stronger and more aggressive tax breaks for farmers to create pollution barricades. We also need tax incentives for companies to treat waste before discharging it directly into the Bay. On the local and state level, I believe local leaders also need to work with farmers and developers to properly regulate runoff that can pollute the Bay. In our era of tough fiscal times, we also need to partner with businesses to help clean up the Bay.
I believe this comprehensive approach can make a difference and help us clean up Chesapeake Bay for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
3. The biggest problem facing the Maryland Second District and our country is the loss of jobs. Jobs are the gasoline that fuels the economy. If you don’t have a job, you can’t support your family or your community. I am working hard to create jobs and strengthen the Maryland economy. I believe we must keep BWI Airport, one of the state’s biggest economic engines, moving by ensuring safe and easy travel through the airport. I am working with the National Security Agency at Fort Meade to help the agency join forces with small businesses and private contractors to help fight our war against terrorism. I helped secure a $1 million federal grant to help launch a new initiative at Aberdeen Proving Ground that will encourage greater cooperation between research laboratories and high tech companies. I led the fight to bring ship building back to Sparrow’s Point in Baltimore. The company that bought Sparrow’s Point hopes to hire 1,500 workers over the next three years. I will continue to fight for more jobs for Maryland on Capitol Hill.
Jane Brooks: Challenger
1. As wife of a U.S. Postal worker, as daughter of aging parents, as mother with a son serving in the U.S. Army and recently returned home from Iraq and as grandmother, I have tremendous life experience. As an assistant district representative to Gov. Robert Ehrlich, when he was in Congress and as a community activist and church member, I bring strong commitment and traditional values to Washington.
2. I believe Gov. Ehrlich is on target recognizing the failure of our treatment plants. Much rain sewage is escaping into our precious Chesapeake Bay and surrounding streams. This would be my number-one priority to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
3. Healthcare coverage — or lack thereof — is a major problem facing all Americans. One of the first things I would like to do is replace Dutch Ruppersberger and his lack of understanding that small businesses need the Small Business Fairness Act and our seniors need prescription drug coverage — both of which he voted against. He also voted against the Accessible Low Cost Health Care Act of 2004. Health Care that is affordable to all is a priority in my future plans for American families.
1. I was born and raised in Lutherville and have lived most of my life in the district. I’m a small business owner and a parent. I am not a professional politician, so I can much better represent the average citizen of the Second District than can the incumbent. As a longtime producer for Maryland Public Television’s Outdoors, Maryland, I have extensive experience with many of the environmental programs and issues of our area. I’m an avid hiker and mountaineer, so I have a keen appreciation for the beauty, grandeur and importance of our natural resources.
2. We need to enforce the Clean Water Act. I will also push for federal help to build and upgrade sewage treatment plants, and for programs to reduce excess nutrient runoff from agricultural lands. Long-term, we should reduce the use of fossil fuels, especially in transportation, and thus cut airborne pollutants that end up in the Bay. We can do this by promoting hybrid and other high-efficiency vehicle technologies. Pursuing a long-term, comprehensive energy policy that includes strong support for renewable energy technologies will also greatly reduce air pollution from sources such as electric generation.
\We also need to strengthen programs and regulations that reduce nutrient runoff from residential and commercial lands and that protect waterways that empty into the Bay. The federal government can and should provide leadership and fiscal incentives for states to cooperate in creating and implementing effective programs.
3. The current U.S. healthcare system is broken and does not work. Across the U.S., one-sixth of our population is without health coverage. In the Second District, this means at least 100,000 citizens are without health coverage. We’re the only industrialized nation on the planet that does not provide health coverage to all its citizens. This is unconscionable and very inefficient.
I believe we must create a single payer system that guarantees all Americans access to healthcare. This system must preserve private delivery of healthcare while providing for public funding. Those who so choose could still opt for private health insurance. I support H.R. 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act, which creates such a system. If elected to Congress, my first day in office I’ll sign on as a cosponsor of this legislation. I’ll also work to simplify the funding structure of the bill, which is too complex.
We can provide universal healthcare for no more than what we currently pay.
Third Congressional District
Only one can win
Benjamin Cardin: Congressman
1. Through my representation of Maryland’s Third Congressional District, I have gained an in-depth understanding of my constituents and the challenges facing our community. At the same time, I have learned a great deal about the problems of the nation and the workings of Congress and the federal government. Given this knowledge and the positions I have secured on the Ways and Means Committee, the Select Homeland Security Committee and the Helsinki Commission, I am well prepared to address the needs of the Third District, the State of Maryland and the nation.
2. The 20th anniversary of the original Chesapeake Bay Agreement has caused me to reflect on our progress and the challenges ahead. While the Bay partnership among the federal government, state and local governments and private organizations has proven a national model for environmental cooperation, there is still a lot to be done.
I believe we must increase our efforts substantially at all levels. The state of Maryland led the way this year by enacting new sewage fees to greatly upgrade our state’s water treatment systems. I am working to see the federal government match this challenge and significantly increase its commitment to water treatment plant upgrades throughout the region. As well, we must increase funding of incentives for agricultural practices that have proven effective in reducing the harmful levels of nutrients flooding the Bay. A third essential step is tightening our Clean Air regulations and enforcement. This will reduce the fallout of pollutants into the Bay and its watershed, as well as improve the entire nation’s public health.
Restoration of Chesapeake Bay is one of my very highest priorities as a member of Congress.
3. The Baltimore-Washington corridor is facing increasing gridlock on our roads. The federal government has a leading role in financing surface transportation development and encouraging regional solutions. I believe we must do much more than we are currently accomplishing to deal effectively with traffic problems and the delays we all suffer through each day. There are many facets to an overall solution: expansion of successful transit systems like MARC commuter rail and the Washington Metro; creation of transportation alternatives such as bike paths and greenways through communities; expansion of key roadways and limits on sprawl development. Reauthorization of the six-year federal Surface Transportation program is the best opportunity for such comprehensive advances in our community.
Robert Duckworth: Challenger
1. I am clerk of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, elected three times. This — along with my active community service on civic organization boards like the YMCA and my role as a past president of the Crofton Civic Association — equips me with the right local combination to represent the concerns of the district. Also, I have worked on Capitol Hill, at the Office of Management and Budget and at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. So I have a keen federal awareness of how to get things done as a congressman.
Finally as a Bob Ehrlich Republican, I believe in low taxes, a business-friendly environment and allowing the free market to work without government obstacles to create jobs. Thus I am the right person to represent the people of the new Third Congressional district of Maryland, who share these views. Working closely with the governor, I can be a strong, effective voice of the people, able to serve their state and local interests as their congressman better than the incumbent.
2. Protecting the diverse Chesapeake Bay is critical and one of my top priorities. As the nation’s greatest estuary and a fragile ecosystem, the Bay’s entire watershed, home to 16 million people, faces its greatest threat: death to its waters from thousands of tons of nutrients released from more than 300 aging sewage treatment plants, massive farmland run-off and continuing development.
I will work certainly to: continue the Oyster Reclamation Project as one step to filtering the Bay’s pollution; accelerate and expand Governor Ehrlich’s program to upgrade the sewage treatment plants throughout the entire watershed; and assure the success and efforts of the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program to coordinate the federal, state, local and private work to save the Bay.
In addition, I will seek to have Chesapeake Bay declared by Congress and the President as a national environmental and historic treasure and thereby elevate permanently its prominence nationwide to promote its survival with a renewed emphasis and adequate federal, state and local funds to do the job. We owe it to our children and the next generation to dedicate this generation toward the gift of a healthy, clean Bay.
3. One of the key problems that must be addressed is the need to help small businesses provide healthcare coverage to their employees. Thousands of small business employees throughout the district lack healthcare coverage. I’ll work to fix the medical liability system — including actions like tort reform; working with the malpractice insurance companies to lower premiums chasing doctors away; and tax credits for lower income workers to help pay for affordable health insurance. This problem affects not only the health of our constituents but also the health of our economy and ultimately burdens the taxpayer.
Patsy Allen: Challenger
1. My experience — as a lifelong Maryland resident, the mother of a teenage daughter and an engineer with the Maryland Department of the Environment — gives me insight into Maryland’s resources and challenges from several different perspectives. First-hand knowledge of the public elementary schools, of planned and unplanned growth and of water quality in the Chesapeake Bay will be very helpful. I love to learn from others, and I will welcome the opportunity to hear many points of view.
2. It is important to maintain consistent enforcement of industrial and municipal wastewater limitations, critical area regulations and sediment-control laws. The next step is better control of non-point wastewater. Efforts have recently been intensified with mandatory nutrient management planning for farms and permitting of local storm water collection systems. These efforts will continue to require widespread education, state funding and creative solutions.
3. One local, state and nationwide issue is a lack of affordable healthcare. I will support the establishment of federal health insurance for all Americans, independent of place of employment. Such a program will enable small businesses to grow and compete with larger companies to hire the best workers. The elimination of for-profit health insurers will result in some savings, as will reductions in paperwork and a reduction in emergency room visits with better preventive and routine healthcare.
Fifth Congressional District
Only one can win
Steny Hoyer: Congressman
1. I believe that I have been an effective and responsive leader in Washington and Maryland for the Fifth Congressional District over the past 24 years. In Congress, I have worked to get results for the people I represent by fighting for fiscally responsible economic policies that promote growth and create jobs, while allowing us to invest in crucial priorities such as national defense, homeland security, healthcare, education and the environment.
2. I have worked for over 20 years to secure millions of dollars in federal funds to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed and improve its water quality, and this remains one of my highest priorities in Congress. I believe that we need to do more to improve and promote conservation programs that could significantly improve the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality, and I will work to improve successful conservation practices that also help farmers solve water-quality problems on the farm.
3. The most urgent issue facing the nation and the Fifth Congressional District is security: ensuring a strong national defense and protecting our homeland. I have worked to ensure that our troops have the best equipment, training and protection they need to win the war on terror and return home safely. We also must provide for those who protect us at home by ensuring that our communities have enough police, firefighters and medical response personnel and that they are properly trained and equipped to do their job.
Brad Jewitt: Challenger
1. As the father of a six-year-old boy, I will work to assure our children have a quality education in a safe learning environment. As a reserve U.S. Marine, I am committed to protecting the military installations in our district so vital to our national defense and homeland security. I will partner with supporters such as Congressman Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in that effort. And, as the former mayor of Berwyn Heights, I understand what our local officials go through to balance their budgets and provide for our residents; I am committed to working with our local governments to make sure they have the resources they need to provide our residents improved transportation, enhanced fire and rescue and the law enforcement needed to ensure our safety.
2. I will work with the leaders in the majority and our Republican governor to bring federal dollars into the state of Maryland to help pay for desperately needed upgrading of the sewage treatment plants throughout the state. Last year, the governor passed legislation to create a fund to pay for these upgrades, the costs of which are shouldered by Maryland taxpayers. Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and I will fight to make sure the federal government shares in this costly expense.
3. Steny Hoyer. Time and again, the current congressman neglects this district while pursuing his own goals of personal power. As your next congressman, I will spend 100 percent of my time focused on the people here and making sure working families have the resources they need to provide for their families. We deserve a congressman whose number-one priority is this district and working with the party of power, even if that means across party lines, to bring results to this district. Steny Hoyer consistently puts his party ahead of us, his constituents.
Bob Auerbach: Challenger
1. My experience as an activist for peace, the environment, social justice and grassroots democracy will help, because the main duty of a member of Congress is to represent the public interest. Unfortunately, inequality of wealth makes money the dominant political power in the United States and undermines equal access to democracy. The experience of most incumbent politicians is the experience of serving the powerful. Money in politics largely determines which interests our elected officials serve, usually at the expense of the public interest. Green Party candidates offer an alternative to this system of “plutocracy” — government by money. Green candidates do not simply preach campaign finance reform; we are practicing clean campaigns. Green candidates do not accept PAC money. In Maryland, Green candidates accept money from individuals only, and we adopt self-imposed limits below the legal contribution limit. (My campaign has adopted a limit of $100 per contributor.)
2. Existing programs to promote clean waters, to reduce pollutant runoff and to restore the Bay should be fully implemented and fully funded; if existing laws and interstate compacts to protect the Bay were seriously enforced, this would be a good first step. Individuals with ties to polluting industries should be disqualified from public offices regulating those industries. Decisions must consider long-range and short-term consequences for the Bay; mindless development and unwise highway construction have contributed mightily to the Bay’s degeneration. It is extremely important to educate people in the Chespeake Bay watershed about the importance of protecting the Bay and its tributaries, and about the techniques that will allow sustainability for this wonderful but acutely threatened natural resource. The public needs accurate information about the health of the Bay instead of misleading data designed for political spin.
3. Solutions to key problems are reflected in the basic values of the Green Party: nonviolence; social justice; the environment; and grassroots democracy. Violence does not solve problems. Nonviolence implies that only peaceful means should be used to settle disputes. Nonviolence of course means peace (no war) on the international level, but it also means respect and tolerance for other individuals. Social Justice means equality; respect for diversity; nondiscrimination; cooperation, and a fair and democratic economy that benefits all people. The Greens are well known for environmental values, such as clean air, clean water, renewable energy and the practice of “living lightly on the land,” which includes reducing consumption, reusing materials and recycling.
Current energy policies and development strategies are not sustainable. We need alternative approaches that will conserve, respect and protect natural resources. Grassroots democracy means genuine democracy, by and for the people. By running clean election campaigns, Greens are working to remove the dominance of money in politics. Greens favor proportional representation and choice voting, also known as preference voting (including instant runoff voting), because choice voting and proportional voting systems are more representative than the plurality-take-all systems of voting common in the United States today. Let’s work together, for peace, social justice, racial harmony, equality, the environment, and pro-democracy reforms in America. If you live in Maryland, you can find a local Green group in your area, by visiting the Maryland Green Party website, www.mdgreens.org.
Steve Krukar: Challenger
1. My experience in the fields of architecture, radio/TV broadcasting, real estate and the airline industry, coupled with my education in each of the above areas, provides me with a broad depth of understanding of our nation as a whole, including government.
2. I would educate the public as to the practical ways the Bay benefits them and how the loss of a healthy Bay would adversely impact them. I would encourage private investment to revitalize the Bay.
3. A major problem for all residents in our district is excessive taxation, which steals money, time, energy and enjoyment of life from citizens. To solve a portion of this problem, I would sponsor federal legislation to abolish the federal income tax and replace it with a constitutional approach based upon Article One of our U.S. Constitution, namely imports and duties on foreign goods, excess and apportionment.