Moving Forward: Why Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore (Desperately) Needs Ben Jealous
There are more than a few misconceptions about Ben Jealous, especially since he won the Democratic Gubernatorial Nomination this past June. Beyond the ridiculous assertion that he is akin to a (left-wing) extremist, is that he doesn’t care equally about the entire state. Rather, the clear implication by his detractors is that he, like Democrats before him, only cares about the corridor between the DC suburbs and the Baltimore region. In the interest of full disclosure, I live within that major population corridor (Montgomery County, specifically). However, just as I (and many of my friends and neighbors) recognize the importance of addressing the many challenges in every part of Maryland, so does Ben Jealous.
Yet, don’t just take my word for it. Consider what he is actually saying about his vision for Maryland, specifically within the context of the challenges facing the Lower Shore:
All of the Lower Shore counties have poverty rates above the statewide average. Somerset County, specifically, is one of the poorest counties in the Nation. As Governor, Ben Jealous won’t lay down a smokescreen of rhetorical misdirection. Instead, he will boldy advance sustainable economic policies that are applicable statewide, along with those specifically tailored specifically to rural communities like those on the Lower Shore. For example, he will provide the resources required to help farmers fully embrace technological innovations, foster a solid partnership with urban customers in Maryland and promote rural ecotourism. Farmers must have the ability to succeed without dependency on corporate entities like “Big Chicken.” Ben Jealous also appreciates the linkage between a healthy natural environment and the health of the Lower Shore’s economy. This includes cleaner air from the growth of green industries, such as solar and wind farms, on the Lower Shore and statewide. In addition, he’ll not compromise on protecting the Chesapeake Bay, but instead stand firmly against threats to its health like new natural gas pipelines.
Ben Jealous will seriously address the infrastructure challenges facing Maryland, including the specific needs of the Lower Shore. For example, he will press for the expansion of rural broadband access, so businesses on the Lower Shore are not left behind in the 21st Century global economy. Unlike the incumbent, Ben Jealous will ensure that all localities have the support required for meaningful local transit systems, so everyone on the Lower Shore is able to get from “Point A” to Point B,” regardless of one’s access to a car. This includes exploring partnerships with transportation network services (i.e. Lyft/Uber), so those needing door-to-door mobility/paratransit services are not treated like second-class citizens. He will ensure that the state fully embraces “Complete Streets” policies and provides sufficient resources for local implementation efforts, so everyone, regardless of travel mode, is able to use the Lower Shore’s entire road network safety- from Cambridge to Salisbury to Ocean City and every point in between.
Ben Jealous will press for a sincere and sustainable investment in educational opportunities statewide, which is indispensable for economic opportunity throughout the Lower Shore. This includes distribution of State resources to local schools that fully reflect the challenges each jurisdiction faces. Fairly compensating teachers, plus community schools that address the holistic needs of children on the Lower Shore is also critical, given the challenges that so many children on the Lower Shore face outside of the classroom. For example, any student with inadequate access to quality health care is inherently distracted from one’s studies at best and faces excessive time away from the classroom (due to avoidable and/or inadequate treatment of illness) at worse. Ben Jealous has a sustainable health care plan to effectively tackle this issue head-on. His bold and feasible plan will also facilitate equitable, quality health care for every segment of the Lower Shore’s population.
The Lower Shore deserves a Governor who truly understands the path forward for every community in our state. The policies advocated by Ben Jealous will directly improve the precarious economic conditions on the Lower Shore, from essential infrastructure to a holistic education system and full access to affordable, high quality health care. He will not give lip service to rural areas. Governor Ben Jealous is advocating true leadership, instead of the “smoke-and-mirrors” that the incumbent has tried to sell the Lower Shore for almost 4 years.