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.
On February 3, 2019, the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus turned two years old. When we first began, there were some in the community who laughed and said we would be lucky to last two months.
Since our inception, I am proud to say that today there are 6 elected progressives on the Lower Shore, both within the Democratic Party and at the county level. We have also successfully helped get several pieces of legislation passed in the General Assembly and successfully moved some of our legislators to support certain bills like paid sick leave.
In my twenty years of life, it has been my proudest achievement to serve as chair of this great organization. It has helped shaped me as a person, introduced me to many great friends, and brought me closer to the community I have lived in and loved my whole life. I know that political organizing is a long and hard road filled with ups and downs and filled with major victories and crushing defeats. But the future of the Eastern Shore of Maryland rests in our hands, and I am more confident than ever that our future is bright and that we will continue to build a movement that protects our values and way of life and works to create better opportunities for generations of Shore residents long after we are gone.
To all our members and volunteers, I thank you for all your hard work and sacrifices to advance the progressive movement on the Shore. If you are not a member, yet agree with a lot of what we do or want to help better our region, I personally invite you to join us and become involved. Together we can build a better Eastern Shore for all.
As I traveled through Southern Germany today (3.9.19) I was taken away by how many wind turbines and other forms of green energy I saw in the countryside. Not only has Germany’s investment in green energy started to address the growing crisis that is climate change, but it has also created good paying jobs and economic development in rural areas.
With this in mind I am calling on all Lower Shore delegates and senators to put politics aside and support the Clean Energy Jobs Act to help bring that same investment and growth to our region.
The Lower Eastern Shore stands to see the most immediate impact from rising sea levels caused by climate change. It is already happening in Dorchester and Somerset counties and poses a serious threat to our coastal communities and way of life. Also having the state invest in more green energy opens the Shore up to having more green energy projects come to our area, creating jobs and economic growth. Now more than ever, we need our delegation to have vision and lead on this issue.
Call your reps to voice your support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
There has been a lot of discussion in the political world about reparations recently. Many opponents of the idea point out that “They didn’t own slaves” or “Slavery was a long time ago.” The problem with these statements is that it fails to understand the major effects of enslavement and other forms of systemic oppression that have drastically affected the African American community in America for generations. Slavery in America started in 1619 when a Dutch ship brought 20 African slaves ashore in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia, and lasted until the passing of the 13th amendment in 1865. These 246 years not only put the African American community through the most inhumane and brutal conditions imaginable but also created multiple generations of people who worked for free. Not only were there physical and mental wounds left by this practice, but it also left those who did live to gain freedom at a disadvantage because no wealth was gained from their labor. Meanwhile, white plantation owners--and white families in general--were gaining wealth and passing it down from generation to generation.
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)
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