Ben Jealous urges action, change

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan Candidate for governor Ben Jealous spoke Sunday evening at a rally in Cambridge. The event was held at Democratic Headquarters and featured several hopefuls running for Eastern Shore offices.

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Candidate for governor Ben Jealous spoke Sunday evening at a rally in Cambridge. The event was held at Democratic Headquarters and featured several hopefuls running for Eastern Shore offices.

CAMBRIDGE – The general election won’t be until Nov. 6, but it was a blue wave on Academy Street on Sunday evening, when Democratic Party activists gathered to hear gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous and others speak. The event attracted a full house, with many participants coming from other Lower Shore counties.
“We’ve been one of the poorest parts of the state,” Jared Schablein of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus said as he got the rally started. “We need new leadership.”

Ben Jealous
Candidate for Maryland governor
Following an introduction from Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, Mr. Jealous, running against incumbent Republican Larry Hogan, spoke on a number of issues. He focused on health care, education and green energy.

“Energy production is going only one direction – clean energy,” he said, urging that Maryland get into solar and wind power early, creating an industry that will one day be able to sell to other areas.

The state’s schools have fallen in national rankings in recent years, he said. Mr. Jealous advocated for universal pre-kindergarten as a way to boost the success of Maryland students. The expanded program would be paid for in large part by state taxes on cannabis, which he supports legalizing for adult use.

The cost of college education is also something Mr. Jealous wants to address. He said one reason for the decades-long economic slowdown in the United States is because young people are not starting businesses – and that is because so many are saddled with debt from their education.

Mr. Jealous told the crowd he wants to see government regulation of prescription drug costs, the high prices of which keep many from acquiring the medicine they need. “I’m running to take on the pharmaceutical companies,” he said.

He said the Republican Party has gained control of two-thirds of state governments as a way to block federal initiatives.

“Let’s use their momentum against them,” by taking back Maryland, he said. “Thank you for believing that a Republican can’t push us backwards.”

Dan O’Hare
Candidate for House of Delegates District 37B
“Things are changing, and they’re changing fast,” Mr. O’Hare said. “It’s up to progressives to lead.”

He said he has always been interested in philosophy, reading and thinking. “Apparently, that makes you a progressive now,” he said, as the crowd laughed.

He told the audience that the party should pursue clear goals, such as a living wage. “We need to be sure we don’t adhere to slogans,” he said.

Holly Wright
Candidate for State Senate District 37
Ms. Wright said a high proportion of European Americans and an even higher number of African Americans and Latinos are poor. One way to tackle those situations is by regulating prices on prescription drugs, she said.

Another is to provide universal pre-kindergarten. “This is something that we know works,” she said. “Let’s put our money into something valuable.”
She is running against incumbent State Senator Addie Eckardt.

“My idea is to keep the lovely Addie here in District 37 twelve months a year,” Ms. Wright said. “Take away her voting rights and give them to me.”

Jamaad Gould
Candidate for Wicomico County Council At-Large
Mr. Gould, 27, got what might have been the biggest laugh of the night when he began his remarks with, “I’m older than I look.”

He also provided the group with a dramatic moment.

“I consider myself a progressive because we have a long way to go,” he said, as he pulled up the hood on his sweatshirt. “When you’re a black man in America and you walk down the street in a hoodie, and you’re attacked because of the color of your skin, something has to change.”

Deborah Nissley
Candidate for Somerset Commissioner District 3
Ms. Nissley said she was inspired to enter politics by the campaign of U.S. Senator Bernie Saunders. “I was just glued to that race,” she said.

Her priorities are employment and the environment. “I’m just really tired of seeing these statistics” regarding poor health and job opportunities in Somerset County, she said.

One way of generating jobs would the clean energy industry, she said, as she noted the strong opposition to green power from some quarters in Somerset. She got a laugh and applause when told of a county chicken farmer who said he opposed a solar panel project because he feared its runoff would be damaging.

“Scientists have said solar fields don’t have runoff,” she said.

Michele Gregory
Candidate for Wicomico County District 3
Describing herself as a lifelong progressive, Ms. Gregory said, “We care about people. That’s what makes us who we are.” That sense of caring is “what we need to bring back to politics,” she said. “I think people feel more disconnected than ever before.”

To learn more about the Lower Shore Progessive Caucus, visit www.lowershoreprogressives.com.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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