Welcome to the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus
Our Next Meeting.
An Open Letter from our Chair.
We are preparing for the legislative session which begins mid-January 2019.
Whether you have been on social media or watching any form of news, you have probably seen that a majority of the conversation is about the 2020 election. While it is important to find a good candidate to take on President Donald Trump and reverse several of his destructive policies, there are important events happening in small towns and cities across the Lower Shore in 2019 that are being overlooked. The 2019 Municipal elections are where we will be electing many of our town council representatives and mayors, depending on the area you live in. From cities like Salisbury to small towns like Brookview in Dorchester County, these elections are the simplest way to have a major impact in order to build the best possible future for our region.
One major reason you should be involved is it’s necessary to keep you informed about what is going on right outside your door. It doesn’t matter if you live in a city like Salisbury or a small town like Pittsville, there are many things going on in your community that you might not think about on a regular basis. By becoming involved in local politics in your town, you not only get a chance to meet your neighbors, but you acquire an understanding of the issues facing your area. Knowing the needs of your community helps you to become an active member in finding solutions to those issues, therefore improving both the community and your personal life. The old saying is true that if you want to change the world you should start locally!
Another major reason you should be involved is it gives the Progressive Movement on the Shore a unique opportunity to build a bench for future races. In 2018, we were able to get some progressives elected into office. However, we still have a long way to go in order to build a government on the Shore that works for the many. One of the biggest problems we faced in 2018 was our candidates didn’t have name recognition and that played a role in some of the close defeats we had. By having progressives start at the local level, candidates gain the experience and the name recognition needed to run for higher offices on the county or state-level in the future. This will not only help our movement in the future but also improves our local governments now, providing an opportunity to have a greater impact in our communities sooner rather than later.
Finally, local governments have the biggest direct effect on our lives. In our political system local governments are in charge of many services like parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, transportation services (including public transportation), and public works (streets, sewers, snow removal, signage, and more). For years people really haven’t paid attention to their local governments across the Shore and it has had a pretty serious effect on events in our community. A perfect example is when Pittsville Town Commission President Denver Moore hired his daughter Carla Moore as town bookkeeper. She went on to embezzle more than $170,000 from the town and was sentenced to jail time for her actions. This isn’t the only time local governments on the Shore have done shady things behind the backs of the public. If you have been paying attention to local news you have probably heard about the tragic death of Anton Black. Despite knowing of Thomas Webster IV past use of excessive force and protests from the president of the Central Delaware NAACP chapter warning the town of his history of violence, the town council still decided to hire Webster and put him in a position of power in the community. This decision is a clear failure on the part of elected officials of the Greensboro town council and a tragic reminder of the need to make sure we elect local leaders who listen to the public and don’t put people with questionable pasts in positions of power within our community.
Even though most towns haven’t had a major negative news story like Pittsville or Greensboro, there are still other major issues with our local Governments across the Lower Shore. Other than the great work being done Mayor Jake Day in Salisbury, many towns on the Lower Shore struggle to find enough people to fully run their town governments. This forces towns to fill their seats with folks who don’t know what they are doing. This lack of experience means that even when full, a majority of the major issues facing our local communities are often not addressed. This is one of the biggest reasons why Progressives should focus on local races in 2019. Not only can we get progressive leaders elected, but we can look to address the corruption and ineffectiveness that plagues our smaller communities. Paying attention to local elections and looking at elected leaders who will actually put forth ideas backed up by hard work to improve our towns and cities will help all citizens build a brighter future for our region--brick by brick.
Dear Governor Hogan,
Since your re-election, one of the major issues that you have sought to address is Gerrymandering in the State of Maryland, even going as far as to create a commission to redraw the 6th congressional district. In order to fully and fairly commit to non-partisan redistricting, it is crucial you speak out and get serious about ending Gerrymandering in District one. A majority of the district is the Eastern Shore, yet year after year our representative in Congress doesn’t live anywhere near the Shore or understand our way of life. That severely limits the Eastern Shore’s power and ability to represent itself in order to better meet the needs at the Federal level. This is illustrated as our current Representative Andy Harris from Cockeysville in Baltimore County voted against the Farm Bill despite the Shore’s economy being overwhelmingly based on farming. This isn’t the only time Representative Harris has voted against the interests of the Shore in Congress. His commitment to anti-immigration policies and inability to compromise left crab houses across the Shore without visa workers during the busy season. Despite having a record of voting against the needs of the majority of his district, Dr. Harris has felt no impact from these decisions because he lives nowhere near the significantly impacted areas and has little skin in the game when it comes to making sure the Eastern Shore gets what it needs to thrive. That leads into the second major issue with how District One is currently drawn. The City of Cockeysville is over three and a half hours away from areas like Crisfield and has completely different ways of life and needs within the community than the Shore. Having a representative from Cockeysville doesn’t accurately portray the needs and views of the majority of the district and creates a district in which Dr. Harris cannot be held accountable for decisions that hurt our region due to how unfairly the map is drawn.
One of the biggest campaign promises you made in 2014 and again in 2018 is “Giving an open ear and a seat at the table” to the Eastern Shore. In order to fully do that, you must do the right thing in the situation--not the easy thing--and fairly redraw the Maryland’s Congressional District One so the Shore can have a representative that will vote for our interests and has vested interests when it comes to the success or failure of the Shore. I am fully aware of the political blowback you may receive from your party for drawing a district that cuts out the only incumbent Republican Congressperson in the state, but it is important to remember by fairly redrawing District One, the odds are that another Republican will be elected to that seat. However, this Republican will actually represent and have a stake in our region giving us the representation we need. All eyes are watching you, Governor Hogan; please do the right thing and give the Shore the voice it desperately needs.
Pittsville (Wicomico County)
Legislative Agenda 2019
Priority Legislation Issues
- Medicare for All/Single Payer Health Care
- A Minimum Wage increase to $15 an HR
- Debt Free Higher Education for 4-year institutions.
- Trust Act
- Community Healthy Air Act
Other Supported Legislation
- Economic Issues
- Worker Rights
- Collective bargaining for community college workers
- Statewide collective bargaining for local government workers
- Overtime for low-income salaried employees
- College Debt forgiveness
- Oppose the construction of the new Redskins stadium at Oxon Cove Park.
- Create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board.
Criminal Justice Reform
- Ending the Bail system in Maryland
- Elimination of mandatory minimum sentencing
- Revamp of State k-12 school funding formula, including new school reforms
- Juvenile Justice Reform
- Legalization of Marijuana
- Ban the use of Nooses and Swastika to threaten or intimidate (HB-04)
- “U-Visa” bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for victims of crime who cooperate with local law enforcement.
- Removing Winder Sign from Wicomico County House (local issue Wicomico County)
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Support the construction of the Wind Projects off the coast of Ocean City
- Oppose the Eastern Shore Natural Gas Pipeline plan.
- Increase Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 50% by 2030
- Green Amendment that will set forth the inalienable right to a clean environment
- Community Solar Legislation to expand the process of having citizens invest in solar farms
- Ban single-use plastics
- Support Rank Choice Voting initiatives on the Lower Shore
- Small donor public financed election on the Lower Shore
- Constitutional Amendment Repealing Citizens United
- Non-Partisan district reform
- Ban untraceable 3D guns
In an interview this week with 47 ABC, Senator Mary Beth Carozza said raising the minimum wage would be harmful for job creation on the Shore. After carefully listening to her interview and viewing her and her colleague's arguments on social media, here are the flaws with her argument against the Fight For 15:
Myth 1: Raising the minimum wage will just result in all minimum wage jobs becoming automated.
Automation is going to happen whether the minimum wage is 15 or there is no minimum wage. The labor market is constantly changing due to improvements in technology, which is a good thing. While it is true some jobs are going to be replaced by automation, eventually, new jobs will spring up from the advancement in technology. For example, fixing the machines or programming.
Myth 2: Raising the wage will just result in higher prices.
A $15/hour minimum is unlikely to result in higher prices because most businesses directly affected by it are in intense competition for consumers and will take the raise out of profits rather than raise their prices. When prices go up people substitute cheaper versions of the product to save money. For example, if Pepsi goes up in price and Coke doesn’t, many people will switch to drinking Coke to save money.
Myth 3: Raising the wage would result in massive job loss.
They say this every time there is a proposed wage increase or workers right bill. The truth is A $15/hour minimum won’t result in major job losses because it would put money in the pockets of millions of low-wage workers who will spend it, thereby giving working families and the overall economy a boost and creating jobs. But because the higher minimum will also attract more workers into the job market, employers will have more choice of who to hire, and thereby have more reliable employees which results in lower turnover costs and higher productivity.
In 1996 when the minimum wage was raised, business predicted millions of job losses. The result was we had more job gains over the next four years than in any comparable period in American history.
The truth of the matter is that a $15 / hour minimum wage will boost Maryland’s economy by $2.6 billion annually and help business owners have more customers and lower turnover in employees, both key ingredients in helping businesses thrive.
January 9th marked the beginning of another legislative session here in Maryland and while a lot of focus is on healthcare, the economy, and the environment, there are bills currently being proposed in both Montgomery County and Baltimore City which would allow county governments the opportunity to implement rank choice voting. Rank choice voting (aka an Instant Runoff Elections) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.
There are five reasons we should push our Delegation to put in a similar bill to allow the counties of the Lower Eastern Shore to do the same:
Restores Majority Rule. Ranked choice voting ensures that candidates with the most votes and broadest support win, so voters get what they want. A candidate who is opposed by a majority of voters can never win a ranked-choice voting election.
Eliminates Vote Splitting. Ranked choice voting gives you the freedom to vote for the candidate you like the best without worrying that you will help to elect the candidate you like the least. You never have to vote for the "lesser of two evils" when there is another candidate you really like.
More Voice for Voters. Your voice matters more with a ranked ballot. You never feel like your vote is “wasted.” If your favorite candidate can't win, your vote counts for the candidate you ranked second.
More Choice for Voters. Ranked choice voting levels the playing field for all candidates and encourages candidates to take their case directly to you with a focus on the issues.
- Reduces Incentives for Negative Campaigning. Candidates are encouraged to seek second choice rankings from voters whose favorite candidate is somebody else. You are less likely to rank a candidate who has issued personal attacks against your favorite candidate as your second choice.
If you liked this article and want to know how you can help bring rank choice voting to the Lower Shore, you can click the google document below and send that letter to your county council member requesting our state delegation take action. You can also contact your delegate and ask them to take initiative on the issue as well.
Look up your state officials here:
Look up Wicomico County Council Members:
Look up Worcester County Commissioners:
Look up Somerset County Commissioners:
Look up Dorchester County Council Members:
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- Restores Majority Rule. Ranked choice voting ensures that candidates with the most votes and broadest support win, so voters get what they want. A candidate who is opposed by a majority of voters can never win a ranked-choice voting election.