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Md. statewide candidates make final pitches ahead of Election Day

Wes Moore said he will make state ‘inclusive’ as governor

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Dan Cox and Wes Moore at the Maryland Governor Debate on C-SPAN on Oct. 12, 2022. (Screen capture via C-SPAN)

Candidates in races for statewide offices in Maryland are making their final pitches to voters ahead of next week’s highly anticipated midterm elections.

Approaching Election Day, each of the three races for governor, attorney general and comptroller have offered their own dichotomies between candidates on the ballot.

Governor

Maryland’s gubernatorial race has pitted Democratic former CEO and U.S. Army veteran Wes Moore against state Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick County). The seat is seen as one of the most likely Democratic gubernatorial pickups in what is expected to be a difficult year for the party to maintain its majorities in Washington. 

As part of his campaign, Moore has sought to draw stark contrast from his opponent when it comes to matters involving LGBTQ rights and diversity.

“So, we are going to make sure that Maryland is going to be an inclusive state, a state where people feel welcome and a state where we’re asking people to be comfortable with who they are,” Moore said in an Oct. 17 interview with the Washington Blade. “And to know that you’re going to have a state that ultimately enforces it.”

In the state legislature, Cox has endorsed efforts to restrict LGBTQ rights and topics in the state’s education system, referring to such as “classroom indoctrination.”

The latest polling in the race has shown Moore leading Cox by more than 30 points in a seat currently held by popular Republican Governor Larry Hogan.

“And people are saying, ‘Why are you going [to conservative areas] if there are not a lot of Democrats out there?’ My answer is simple: It’s because there’s a lot of Marylanders, and I’m planning on being their governor too,” Moore told the Blade. “You know, when I was in the Army and leading soldiers into combat, one question I never wanted to ask my soldiers is, ‘What’s your political party?’ It didn’t matter. We had one goal and one job and one mission.” 

Attorney general

Vying for the state attorney general’s office, Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown and former Republican Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka have sought to counter each other in the race for the top law enforcement post in Maryland.

Aiming to succeed current Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh, Brown told the Blade that his campaign hoped to address issues brought forth by constituents on the campaign trail.

“This cycle, more people are raising the question about violence in the community, hate crimes, guns on the street more than any other time in the 20-plus years I’ve been doing this,” Brown said. “And that’s consistent with what a lot of national and Maryland polling shows as well.”

When it came to matters of diversity and legal equity for LGBTQ Marylanders and other communities, Brown said that he believed such matters to be paramount to the duties of the office he seeks and would work to ensure such was a reality.

“I think an important role of the attorney general is protecting the rights and the privileges and the interests of all Marylanders, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identification, geography — ensuring that we have systems of justice whether its criminal or civil that ensures equity and equality and fair treatment of all,” Brown said.

Such legal representation and protections, Brown elaborated, cover a number of areas currently being debate across the country.

“So that’s true whether you’re talking about the right of a woman to make decisions about her reproductive health and whether she wants to bring a pregnancy to term or whether it’s addressing the troubling rise that we see in violence against transgender Marylanders,” Brown said. “As attorney general, these are going to be top issues for me and I’m going to use the office to partner with local, federal officials to make sure we’re protecting the rights of all Marylanders.”

Peroutka did not immediately respond to the Blade’s request for an interview but has asserted his position on the campaign trail that, if elected to the post, his priorities would include opposing the expansion of abortion access in the state and investigating potential election fraud that he believes may cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election results as well as future elections in the state if not addressed.

Comptroller

In the race for comptroller, Democratic state Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City) and Republican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman are aiming to become the state’s next top financial officer.

The next comptroller would take on the responsibilities of maintaining the state’s financial bookkeeping and collection of residents’ taxes. The office also participates as part of powerful state entities including having membership on the state’s Board of Public Works tasked with approving all state contracts of less than $200,000 in value.

Lierman told the Blade that, given issues in the state including racial wealth divide and the need for equity projects, her comptrollership would seek to hone in on issues of diversity should she take office.

“There’s a broad mandate in our state constitution to oversee the general superintendence of the fiscal affairs of the state but we can’t have a strong economy if we are not building in an inclusive way,” Lierman said. “If we are leaving segments of the population behind, then it means that our economy isn’t working as well as it could.”

Ensuring that minority communities including communities of color and LGBTQ Marylanders can be assured equal access to succeed in the state’s economic landscape, Lierman said, has been a top priority of her campaign.

“It means making sure that, if you’re an LGBTQ Black woman from Cheverly, from Prince George’s County who’s a great architect, we want you to be able to compete and win on contracts because we want to build a space where we have more competition, where more people are competing,” Lierman said. “And we want to make sure we’re meeting and exceeding our minority business enterprise goals because it means that we’re building an economy that is growing the entire state and we’re using our contract dollars to build a larger state economy overall.”

Glassman told the Blade that, while equity in the economic system is something that must be ensured, he would take what he characterized as a “more traditional view” of the duties of the office.

“I wouldn’t necessarily weigh in on programs — it doesn’t have to be partisan — but for the most part, programs and policy in Maryland are dictated by the executive branch and the legislative branch,” Glassman said. “As comptroller, you’re there to carry out the law [and] to make sure that contracts are awarded fairly and so forth. I think where [Lierman and I] agree, I think on our role on that Board of Public Works that lets out so much contracting and revenue that we make sure that those bids get out to all our communities to make sure they can capitalize or participate in the contracts that are put out by the state.”

Although aiming to achieve a multitude of initiatives, Lierman affirmed that she would aim to do so while agreeing with Glassman’s position against advocating for new taxes to fund them. Instead, she said she would aim to achieve such through holding wealthy taxpayers and entities accountable for paying taxes.

“We have a $1.2 billion surplus right now and we need to make sure first and foremost that we are collecting all the taxes owed especially from big companies or people who are seeking to evade their tax obligations,” Lierman said. “I will make sure that we’re cracking down on tax evasion and that we’re combatting fraud in our tax system by modernizing our systems and ensuring that Marylanders who can afford to pay their taxes are paying their taxes.”

While Lierman has sought to craft a platform that highlights such goals of development and diversity, Glassman has run a campaign anchored in the goal of fiscal responsibility, partisan balance and a record of staunch opposition to the creation of any new taxes during his time in government.

Overall, however, Glassman said, placing a focus on the day-to-day operations of the office and its connections with Marylanders and Maryland businesses is a prime concern of his campaign rooted in the concerns brought to him by his potential constituents.

“A lot of taxpayers would complain to me about phones not being answered, having trouble getting their estimated small business tax and even some businesses saying they were waiting three and four months to have their checks cashed, their payments actually cashed and posted,” Glassman said. “So, I think the office probably most likely needs a kind of digital review from the top to the bottom, it needs a digital infrastructure upgrade to be able to do a lot more services online.”

In addition to liaising directly with businesses and entities that connect to the office Glassman said that he wanted to stress to voters what he sees as the importance of serving as the taxpayers’ representative in fiscal matters and as a check on unified Democratic power in the state.

“I think having someone there with my temperament would bring a balance. I do think for government to operate effectively, you do need a check and balance and someone with that temperament,” said Glassman. “One party government is usually not the most effective and usually can be more expensive.”

The race may prove to be more dynamic than other statewide races, with Glassman’s more traditionally Republican stance and separation from other Republican candidates for statewide office earning him the endorsement of popular local figures and entities including the Washington Post and Hogan.

Hogan has declined to publicly support the Republican candidates for governor and attorney general.

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Maryland

HRC endorses Angela Alsobrooks

Prince George’s County executive running against Larry Hogan for Cardin Senate seat

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Angela Alsobrooks supporters march in the Baltimore Pride Parade on June 15, 2024. The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed her in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

HRC President Kelley Robinson in a statement that Alsobrooks’s campaign released on Tuesday said Alsobrooks “has always been a champion for equality and freedom, from her support for the state law that legalized same-sex marriage in 2012, to becoming the first Maryland county executive to authorize flying the Progress Pride flag over county buildings, and much more.”

“With everything at stake and democracy itself hanging in the balance, Marylanders deserve that kind of champion,” said Robinson.

Alsobrooks said she is “very honored to earn the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign.”

“In the U.S. Senate, I will always stand up for the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans and make sure we have a future where our freedoms are always protected,” she said.

Alsobrooks in May defeated Congressman David Trone in the Democratic primary for Cardin’s seat. She will face off against former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in November.

“Angela is a trailblazer who is poised to defeat Trump-endorsed Republican Larry Hogan and become the first Black woman from Maryland to serve in the U.S. Senate,” said Robinson. “The Human Rights Campaign is excited and proud to put our full support behind Angela Alsobrooks and help rally Maryland’s voters to elect her in November.”

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Maryland

Bethesda church hosts transgender, nonbinary photo exhibit

Photographer Gwen Andersen showcases community members of all ages, backgrounds

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One of the photos that is part of photographer Gwen Andersen's "Becoming Ourselves" exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Gwen Andersen)

Amid the spate of anti-transgender legislation, the bullying of trans students and lack of gender-affirming care for young people across the country, photographer Gwen Andersen’s photo exhibit seeks to portray the trans and nonbinary community in a positive light.

Andersen’s “Becoming Ourselves” exhibit that documents trans and nonbinary people will be on display at the Bethesda United Church of Christ (10010 Fernwood Road) this summer.

Andersen spearheaded the exhibit along with the Rev. Dr. Jill McCrory from Bethesda UCC. The church paid for the project with a donation it received from Stevie Neal, a trans woman who passed away and left part of her estate to McCrory.

McCrory herself has been a pillar in the LGBTQ community for decades, including while pastor at Twinbrook Baptist Church.

The congregation that McCrory closed dispersed more than $1 million to various ministries and LGBTQ organizations, founded the MoCo Pride Center, and married a same-sex couple on the rainbow stage of Capital Pride in 2010.  Bethesda UCC has also marked the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and hosted a renaming ceremony for a trans baptized member. 

“I happen to have access to a wonderful transgender woman’s (Stevie) donation that she left me to do something for the transgender community,” said McCrory over a Zoom interview. “Andersen came to Rev. McCrory in November of 2023 with the idea. “Gwen knew Stevie. I thought this would be perfect because this is something that would benefit the transgender community.” 

“WIthout Stevie, this surely would not have happened. And I say that with great confidence,” Andersen said in a Zoom interview. 

Stevie Neal with her dog. (Photo courtesy of Gwen Andersen)

“Becoming Ourselves” debuted at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville in March. 

The exhibit features photos of trans and nonbinary people from across the country that Andersen and a number of other photographers took.

The photos feature people from all ages — from preteens to elders from all walks of life that include teachers, community leaders, and athletes. Andersen’s exhibit also showcases people who are proudly showing their top surgery scars. It also shows trans and nonbinary people in a variety of ways, from enjoying music, playing sports, and working.

The exhibit most importantly shows them being happy. 

Anderson’s exhibit has two main goals: Give a space for trans and nonbinary people to see others in their community in a positive way, and to shift the narrative on how people see trans and nonbinary people. 

“It was an emotional issue that won hearts and minds.” said Andersen in reference to the LGBTQ movement to legalize same-sex marriage. “I believe we will reduce the hostility against transgender people by winning hearts and minds.” 

“One of the most effective messages is to protect trans kids,” she added. “Right now the hostility has not just gone against adults, it has gone against children, and children are being harassed, beaten up, and killing themselves. In much the same way as gays and lesbians were killing ourselves 30 years ago. I think what will be effective is tugging on hearts and minds and reclaiming the narrative from hate and fear, to love.”

Andersen wants to eventually get a more permanent location for the exhibit rather than bringing it to different venues. But until then, she plans to bring it to other churches that are interested in hosting it.

Anyone interested in supporting Andersen’s exhibit can log onto the “Becoming Ourselves” website, or directly help any of the photographers whose work is showcased. Andersen has directed folks to support photographer Liam Woods, whose online name is Analogue Papi.

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Maryland

Moore pardons more than 175,000-plus cannabis-related convictions

Governor signed executive order at State House on Monday

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

BY BRENDA WINTRODE and PAMELA WOOD | Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 cannabis-related convictions Monday, nullifying guilty verdicts decided when carrying small amounts of the drug or paraphernalia was illegal.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order during a State House ceremony, granting clemency to thousands of people convicted in Maryland. The convictions to be pardoned include more than 150,000 misdemeanors for simple possession and more than 18,000 for possession of drug paraphernalia with an intent to use.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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