The 2012 General Election is only a few days away. Here's my take on our choices.
There is not much to say about the choices. President Obama, Sen. Ben Cardin, and Rep. Donna Edwards have their flaws, but they are far better than the other choices.
One competitive race for School Board in District 4 is worth mentioning. It pits Micah Watson against
incumbent Pat Eubanks. I believe Micah's experience as a municipal
official and civil servant and his deliberate and balanced temperment
make him the better choice at a time when critical decisions must be
made--including the choice of a new superintendent and senior staff.
For judges, the five current judges face no opposition.
State Ballot Questions
Questions 1 and 2 will require judges of the Orphans
Court, which handles estate and probate issues, to be lawyers in Prince
George's and Baltimore Counties. This is a no brainer. These judges
handle complex legal issues; they should be trained in the law they
administer. The judges in our county are now lawyers, but that has not
always been the case. I am voting YES.
Question 3 will remove an elected official as soon as
they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty in a trial. This is an
issue close to our county, where we have had officials who have been
convicted or plead guilty who have remained in office for months. I am
Question 4 (the "Dream Act") will
ensure that anyone who graduates from one of our high schools, registers
for the draft, and pays taxes can attend community college and, if they
complete 60 hours of credit, transfer to a four-year state college
while paying in-state tuition. It affects young students without legal
documents. Education is always a good investment. Regardless of what
happens with these students, they will be in a better position to make
positive contributions and our society will benefit from it down the
road. It also grants veterans in-state status. I am voting YES.
Question 5 will affirm the boundaries
of congressional districts as drawn by the governor last year. At least
one district is pretty absurd on its face, weaving around the state
like some kind of deranged snake. On the other hand, all but two of our
congressional districts are now more competitive and that will ensure
better constituent service and more responsiveness to local concerns no
matter who is elected. That is a good thing. A No vote is also unlikely
to result in much more than minor change. As far as I am concerned, it
is a toss-up.
Question 6 is a fundamental issue of fairness and
justice for my family and myself. It will give loving couples the right
to marry and enjoy all the benefits and obligations of civil marriage.
It affects thousands of couples and their children who now lack critical
rights and protections. They are friends and neighbors. There are
abundant protections in the law for those who object on religious
grounds. It is time. I am voting YES and will be working at the polls
for Question 6. Let me know if you want to do the same.
Question 7 will expand casino gambling in Maryland. It
is has been the subject of almost $100 million in ads, mailers and
lobbying, most of which is unreliable or misleading. When you separate
out that which is already law, the rhetoric, made up facts and
half-truths, it comes down to a simple choice. Vote yes and the county
might get an additional $16 million a year after 2017 (using nonpartisan
Legislative Services numbers) and the state will get an additional
$39.5 million a year that might be used for education. These are small
amounts, however, in a county budget of $2.6 billion and a state
education budget of $5.8 billion. On the other hand, casino owners will
get $435 million and the families of those who gamble will lose an
additional $500 million. I do not think this is a good deal. The impact
on our economy and on the lives of people isn't worth the pitiful amount
that will come to the county and state. I will vote NO.
Local Ballot Questions
There are seven local ballot issues. Questions A and B
make changes in the procedure for drawing County Council districts
after each Census and in the way multi-year contracts are awarded. No
one has raised any issues with these, as far as I know. I will vote
Questions C-G are bond issues. By law, they must pass
if the county is to upgrade or construct libraries, community college
buildings, police and fire stations and new public buildings, as well as
to improve roads, bridges and make other transportation improvements. I
will vote YES.
Every election is important, but the array of issues in this year's
election -- from the choice of President on down through the various
ballot issues -- present some fundamental choices. Whatever your
feelings about the issues or candidates, it is important to vote and to
make yourself part of the process.
The polls will be open Tuesday from 7:00 in the mornign to 8:00 in the
evening. If you haven't voted already, make sure you show up.
If you have additional questions about any of these matters, feel free to let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me directly at 240-606-1298.
Delegate Doyle Niemann
Maryland House of Delegates, District 47