Al­pha Phi Al­pha hosts com­mu­nity fo­rum on po­lit­i­cal par­ties

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

The United States Pres- iden­tial Elec­tion is next week and there are still vot­ers who are un­de­cided. Not only is the pres­i­den­tial seat at stake for the next four years, but there are also seats in the U.S. Sen- ate and House of Repre- sen­ta­tives up for grabs.

With this in mind, the Sigma Al­pha Lambda chap­ter of the Al­pha Phi Al­pha fra­ter­nity or­ga­nized a fo­rum fea­tur­ing im­port- ant po­lit­i­cal fig­ures in Charles County.

Gil­bert Bowl­ing (D) , the chair­man of the Charles County Demo­cratic Cen- tral Com­mit­tee, along with Bill Dot­son (R), who is chair­man of the Charles County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, and Kame­sha Clark (I), an in­de­pen­dent run­ning for Mary­land’s Dis­trict 4 Con­gres­sional Seat, were all present to ex­plain why their po­lit­i­cal view­points were the ones peo­ple should vote for.

For­mer County Com- mis­sioner Reuben Collins mod­er­ated the event, but Gregory Gil­bert, the di­rec- tor of com­mu­nity re­search for the fra­ter­nity, said “this is not a de­bate.”

“This is a chance for them to tell vot­ers why they should vote for their party or their ideals, not why they shouldn’t vote for the other party,” he said.

Collins said be­cause of the cli­mate in to­day’s elec- tion and the push for voter regis­tra­tion laws, it is more im­por­tant for peo­ple to vote than ever be­fore.

Many is­sues cen­tral to daily life are not be­ing ad­dressed and the most “sala­cious” el­e­ments of each po­lit­i­cal can­di­date are be­ing cov­ered rather than where they stand on dif­fer­ent is­sues.

Bowl­ing said the Dem- ocratic Party un­der­went a shift af­ter the pri­mary elec­tion where Sen. Ber- nie San­ders (D-Vt.) shifted the party fur­ther to­ward the left and down a pro­gres­sive path­way. San­ders helped the party iden­tify new ideals ben­e­fi­cial for the fu­ture of Amer­i­cans.

Some democrats are more mod­er­ate and closer to the cen­ter, but Bowl­ing said he is trend­ing to­ward the di­rec­tion San­ders’ cam­paign pointed in. And he wel­comes any­one who wants to come along for the ride.

“That’s what we stand for. I be­lieve in peo­ple. We be­lieve in peo­ple. Wheth- er you’re black, white, gay, straight, what­ever,” he said. “It doesn’t mat­ter. They all want the same things. Every­body wants the same things.”

Dot­son said the Repub­li­can Party’s ideals may be dif­fer­ent from the Demo­cratic Party’s more lib­eral stances, but they are all about in­clu­sion as well. Every­one is wel- come into the party, and rather than hav­ing more taxes and more fees lev- ied onto ci­ti­zens, the par- ty wants to give ci­ti­zens more lib­erty with their own money and free will to do as they please.

The Repub­li­can party is the party of “life, lib­erty and the pur­suit of happi- ness,” he said, and that can­not hap­pen when the gov­ern­ment is “over­bear­ing of you” with taxes and charges.

Peo­ple have to go out and vote for that free­dom, Dot­son said. Vot­ing is a priv­i­lege and an honor, he said, and some­thing ci­ti­zens must do to keep their voices.

Peo­ple al­ways try to group the Repub­li­can Par- ty to­gether, Dot­son said, as the “party of no” and the party that is al­ways against. “That is just not true,” he said. “This is a party that can come to­gether and fix things like the econ­omy.”

There are five Demo­crat- ic county com­mis­sion­ers cur­rently serv­ing Charles County, Dot­son said, and the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of In­dian Head is not mov­ing any faster. And there are many com­mu­ni­ties in the coun- try just like In­dian Head run by Demo­cratic lead­ers who just “are not get­ting things done.”

“There’s too much divi­sion in ev­ery­thing. These things ef­fect every­one,” Dot­son said.

Clark, a Green party can­di­date, said her cam­paign is be­ing run on the ba­sis that peo­ple need to be taken care of. And her party stands for the same thing.

“I care about peo­ple, I care about chil­dren and I care about preg­nant women,” she said. “And right now a lot of peo­ple’s needs are be­ing ne­glected in this coun­try.”

Clark said she wanted to be a teacher, but she re­al­ized she was a “hu­man­i­tar­ian at heart” and the Green Party stood out to her be- cause of their agenda and how con­cerned they were about car­ing for the world and the peo­ple in it.

Not many peo­ple are aware of Green Party ini­tia­tives, and be­cause they do not know about them they will not give them a chance, Clark said. The large per­cep­tion is that if one per­son from an­other party votes for an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date, that will count as a vote to the party the per­son is in op­po­si­tion to.

“That’s ridicu­lous,” Clark said. “But that’s how peo­ple are look­ing at it.”

San­ders was ini­tially an in­de­pen­dent be­fore run- ning as a Demo­crat and shares many of the same ideas as most Green party can­di­dates. But most peo­ple are not aware of that, Clark said.

All it takes is for one can­di­date to stick out and things can change, she said. Clark wants to be that can­di­date for the peo­ple of Mary­land and the United States.

At the end of the day, Collins said, vot­ing is your voice. And to not vote will min­i­mize the voices of who­ever those peo­ple are. It is im­por­tant to have “your voice heard,” in this up­com­ing elec­tion, he said.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL SYKES II

Reuben Collins, far left, in­tro­duces the pan­elists for the com­mu­nity fo­rum on po­lit­i­cal views. Seated from left are Gil­bert Bowl­ing, Kame­sha Clark and Bill Dot­son.

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