Barack Obama is president, Anthony Brown is running for governor of Maryland, and Ike Leggett has been County Executive in Montgomery County for two terms. However, political power and representation remain somewhat concentrated in America, to say the least. The wealthy and privileged still dominate American politics. It would be naive to think it will ever be much different. But we can try, here and there.
I’ve been following the news coverage and the interest group endorsements for Montgomery County candidates in the June 24 Democratic primary. It appears to me that several well-qualified African-American candidates who would speak for working people and the children of working people, both black and white, are not getting the attention they deserve. It’s probably a matter of lack of campaign contributions. Money rules in American politics, plain and simple. More so now than ever. Some misguided endorsements by The Washington Post also play a role.
Before you vote, you might want to consider a few candidates who have often been overlooked or too quickly dismissed in the run-up to the election.
Laurie-Anne Sayles in District 17
In my district, Gaithersburg and Rockville, District 17, please consider Laurie-Anne Sayles as one of three delegates to the Maryland General Assembly. She’s 32-years-old and has an MPA in health policy. The sky’s the limit for her in Maryland politics. But first she needs the support of a few voters. I think Ms. Sayles has a very real chance to win one of the three seats in District 17. She’s been endorsed by the Gazette and NOW, among others, but not by The Post. She’s young and untested in public office, but so is nearly every first-time candidate.
For reasons unclear to me, the Democratic establishment and many interest groups have lined up behind a District 17 candidate who’s even younger than Ms. Sayles, and not as well-educated. The young man with all the support is both personable and very smart, by all accounts. But he’s barely old enough to rent a car, and he has virtually no real-life work experience. Just my opinion. He’ll be a more worthy candidate four years hence.
You might be interested in the voter guide at http://voterguide.wamu.org/ You can compare Laurie-Anne Sayles side-by-side with Andrew Platt, and the contrast is eye-opening.
To be clear, the two District 17 incumbents, Del. Jim Gilchrist and Del. Kumar Barve, deserve re-election. Ms. Sayles would be an excellent choice for the open third seat formerly held by Luiz Simmons.
Vivian Malloy for County Council
For the four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council, please consider Olney resident Vivian Malloy as one of your choices. She has more than 20 years experience in the Army Nurse Corps, many years as a progressive activist in Montgomery County, and two terms on the Democratic Central Committee. That’s the kind of life experience and dedication to community that impresses me. Among all the at-large candidates, she is the strongest advocate for affordable housing and jobs. Ms. Malloy has gained a number of endorsements from significant interest groups, such as the AFL-CIO, CASA, and NARAL. She also has the support of Kweisi Mfume, former Maryland congressman and president of the NAACP.
It’s a mystery to me why Ms. Malloy’s candidacy has gained little traction in Montgomery County. I suppose the obvious answer is that she’s running against four incumbents. However, the only other challenger, a woman with a good resume but no experience in public office, is getting lots of attention and endorsements. Go figure.
Christopher Barclay in Council District 5
For the Montgomery County Council in District 5, please consider voting for Christopher Barclay.
Mr. Barclay, a respected School Board member and former president of the School Board, has been unfairly pilloried for the moral equivalent of jaywalking while chewing gum.
It’s interesting that Mr. Barclay was poised to move up to higher office when a so-called “scandal” came out of left field and mildly tarnished his reputation. Mr. Barclay was a leading candidate for Montgomery County Council when information suddenly became public about minor credit card issues. The issues were rapidly resolved, but not before the Montgomery County Education Association and the SEIU rescinded endorsements of the candidate. These are two of the most highly prized endorsements in the county.
The MCEA also took pains NOT to endorse any of the alternative candidates in District 5. Draw your own conclusions. Here’s what MCEA had to say:
“We also believe that Chris Barclay has been – and we hope will continue to be – an important voice for our county’s neediest students, schools and neighborhoods …We believe Chris can have a good future in public service in the county. But in light of the recent news and financial disclosures, we cannot recommend him in this race at this time.”
Christopher Barclay was a respected public servant and a leading candidate for County Council before, and nothing of substance has changed. I believe he remains a viable candidate, worthy of even-handed consideration in District 5. If I lived in District 5, I believe I would vote for Mr. Barclay. Just my opinion.
Aisha Braveboy for Attorney General
For attorney general, Sen. Brian Frosh is clearly a candidate of distinction, and probably the most well-qualified candidate. However, Del. Aisha Braveboy is a qualified attorney and experienced member of the General Assembly. Ms. Braveboy would bring a new and different perspective to the important statewide office of Attorney General. She makes a strong case for diverting first-time offenders from the criminal justice system and helping them get on the path to employment. She was a strong supporter of the minimum wage increase. Ms. Braveboy deserves more consideration than she has received.
My opinions about politics and candidates are no more valid than your own. Don’t consider the above opinions to be endorsements. Please make your own voting decisions.
The time may come when race, color, and ethnicity are no longer a big deal in America. Sadly, that day is somewhere down the road. I hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers here.
The League of Women Voters Guide is a good source of candidate information.
Primary Election Day is Tuesday, June 24, 2014.
Your comments are welcome. Comments will be moderated before publication.
— John Hayden