In just a few nights from now I will be standing on a stage, hopefully as Maryland’s Democratic nominee for governor, in front of the hundreds of supporters who made my campaign possible. Win or lose, I will be standing tall, proud to have committed my career to public service and proud to have brought the same core set of values and beliefs that have always driven my desire to give back to Maryland and its people. The very foundation of those values is my Jewish identity and its guiding principles.
As a teenager, I had the great fortune to work on a kibbutz in Israel. It was there that I first experienced the rewards of putting your community before yourself. In my 22 years of public service, I’ve embraced putting community first, fighting for what is fair and right. Sometimes that fight is on behalf of the entire Maryland community, like securing more than $1.5 billion in foreclosure relief from big banks, or going after large corporate polluters and winning the largest environmental settlement in Maryland’s history. Sometimes that fight is on behalf of particular communities, like intervening in the anti-competitive merger of two big funeral home conglomerates to ensure the availability of reasonably priced Jewish funerals. In every case, I stand up to put people ahead of powerful interests.
As I’ve taken on fights for Marylanders, I’ve stayed close to my Jewish roots, serving on the board of the JCC of Greater Washington for the last 15 years, and using my role as the president of the National Association of Attorneys General to raise awareness about issues that hit close to home for the Jewish community. I brought all 50 of our country’s attorneys general on a tour of the Holocaust Museum and I also led a delegation to Israel. I also used my platform as attorney general to push states to take action on Iran. We have a moral obligation to ensure that taxpayer-funded contracts are not awarded to companies that do business with a regime that consistently violates international law and threatens Jews abroad.
Maryland as a state also has a moral obligation to do more for its people. Having served two terms as a defender of the downtrodden, I have seen too much evidence of ways the current approach to governing is failing them. Over the last seven years, our economy has been mortgaged on the backs of the people, thanks to 40 straight tax increases, but our state had literally no economic growth last year. Our state ranks as one of the most violent states in the country, and our schools continue to exhibit some of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. We need new leadership to strengthen our economy and our communities.
As governor I will make a stronger, job-creating economy our state’s top priority. Our current administration is losing valuable jobs and businesses by refusing to be competitive. I will make Maryland competitive by offering new incentives for in-state job creation and by gradually reducing our corporate tax rate to match that of neighboring states, starting with a .25 percent decrease in my first year in office. These are steps my opponents refuse to embrace.
I will also strengthen our communities. When it comes to public safety, this means building better ties with law enforcement. As state’s attorney for Montgomery County, I implemented a “community prosecution” model, assigning prosecutors to specific neighborhoods so that they could build lasting relationships with citizens and police in those areas and then work collaboratively to drive down crime. We need to implement this model statewide.
Another key to strengthening our communities is improving our schools. Although our public schools are ranked highly overall, they are also ranked second in the nation for the achievement gap between low-income students and wealthier students. This is not fair to our kids. From the beginning of my campaign I’ve called for expanding affordable access to pre-K, starting with our state’s neediest families. I’ve also proposed revamping the way our schools reward our teachers, ensuring that our most skilled and effective teachers are better supported and compensated. These reforms can go a long way toward improving opportunities for our children.
My ideas for Maryland’s future are not poll-driven, they are community-driven. So it is with great humility that I ask you, the members of the Jewish community, to come out and support me on June 24 to ensure you have a governor who is always on the side of you, the great people of the state of Maryland.
The writer, Maryland’s attorney general, is a Democratic candidate for governor.