Van Hollen campaigns in Cambridge

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff Dorchester Banner editor Bob Zimberoff, right, interviews U.S. Senate candidate Chris Van Hollen on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the WHCP 101.5 studio in downtown Cambridge.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
Dorchester Banner editor Bob Zimberoff, right, interviews U.S. Senate candidate Chris Van Hollen on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the WHCP 101.5 studio in downtown Cambridge.

By Bob Zimberoff
Dorchester Banner
CAMBRIDGE — Congressman Chris Van Hollen stopped in Cambridge Aug. 18 while campaigning for the U.S. Senate. Should he win, he said he would be honored to replace longtime Sen. Barbara Mikulski who is retiring.

Sen. Mikulski first ran for public office in 1971, winning a seat on the Baltimore City Council. She then served in Congress for Maryland’s 3rd District for 10 years, won the election for Senate in 1986 and has served in the Senate ever since.

“Sen. Mikulski has represented our State of Maryland incredibly well,” said Congressman Van Hollen, a Democrat. “Both locally, every part of the state, and she’s been a national champion. We’re all very proud of her. I’m very proud to have her support and her full endorsement.”

Congressman Van Hollen has represented Maryland’s 8th District since 2002. His district covers rural areas in Carroll and Frederick counties and part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area including Bethesda in Montgomery County.

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Congressman Chris Van Hollen

“It’s a very diverse set of voters and constituents, very geographically diverse, very ethnically diverse and very ideologically diverse,” Congressman Van Hollen said of his district. “One of the things I’ve worked to do is to sit down and meet with people throughout that district, including some people that might not agree with me on every issue. I think it’s important to listen and to learn and I’m grateful that they’ve respected that process as well.”

He said he thinks his experience in working with constituents in both rural and urban areas with very different concerns will help him as a senator.

“I think to the extent that we can put the national partisan politics aside and focus on getting results for local communities, Cambridge and Dorchester County, Eastern Shore and western Maryland, all of us are better off,” Mr. Van Hollen said. “Certainly, our constituents are best served that way.”

A fiscal watchdog and budget expert, Congressman Van Hollen is the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

“(The deficit is) something that we need to get a better handle on in the country,” he said. “Good news is the annual deficits have been going down steadily over the last couple years. The bad news is that we started accumulating a large debt.

“I’m a big believer in fiscal responsibility. That means when it comes to investments in spending, we need to make sure that we have transparency and accountability. All of us want to make sure that our collective funds, taxpayer funds, are wisely spent in areas where there are common purposes and common good …”

Mr. Van Hollen listed education, modernizing infrastructure, and finding cures and treatments for diseases as examples of investments that serve the common good.

“These are not just good investments in their own right,” he said. “They’re also really important in helping to grow the economy.”

He said he will fight for the middle class by working to eliminate tax breaks for special interests that do not serve the greater good. Mr. Van Hollen also sees a need for modernized infrastructure in Dorchester County.

“We need to build our high speed Internet access, high speed broadband,” he said. “If you’re a small business and you want to locate on the Eastern Shore, whether it’s Dorchester County or some other place, you need to be connected at the speed of light to the Internet. I’ve been pushing for a faster build out of high speed Internet.”

Mr. Van Hollen has been a longtime steward of the Chesapeake Bay as well.

“We do need to work together to protect the Bay because so many people get their livelihood from the Bay, whether it’s the watermen or it’s the tourism industry,” he said. “We’re all partners in this together because we all have a stake in a clean Chesapeake Bay which is why I worked with the Maryland farming community when we developed the provision in the farm bill in the mid-2000s to provide them with greater tools and assistance to plant cover crops and to take steps to reduce nutrient runoff.”

Congressman Van Hollen said concern for the Bay and working watermen is another opportunity for him to work with constituents should he win the Senate election.

“This is a great example where we all have a stake in a clean Bay and we also have a stake in working together to get it done,” he said. “That means the watermen, it means the farmers, it means the environmental community, everybody sitting around the table.”

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