Van Hollen head­lines Unity Rally

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

GRA­SONVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Democrats wel­comed Con­gress­man Chris Van Hollen to a Unity Rally, Satur­day, June 18, at the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay En­vi­ron­men­tal Cen­ter in Gra­sonville. The lun­cheon, catered by Paul Gun­ther, was an op­por­tu­nity for county res­i­dents to meet Van Hollen, the Demo­cratic candidate for U.S. Sen. Bar­bara Milkul­ski’s seat, and Joe Werner, the Demo­cratic candidate for the First Dis­trict Con­gres­sional seat. The event was spon­sored by the Demo­cratic Club of Queen Anne’s County.

Michael Drum­mond, act­ing pres­i­dent of Demo­cratic Club, wel­comed the group

and re­layed thanks from Mikul­ski for their on­go­ing sup­port. “Bar­bara gave her heart and soul for her neigh­bors. She loved Mary­land, and we are for­tu­nate Chris [Van Hollen] is some­one who can suc­ceed her,” said Drum­mond.

Van Hollen was re­ceived with loud ap­plause.

“We are ready to see Hil­lary Clin­ton in the White House, but first we need to put Pres­i­dent Obama’s nom­i­nee on the Supreme Court,” he said.

Van Hollen said the party should tap into the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment of young peo­ple and, as the gen­eral elec­tion ap­proaches, con­tinue to strengthen and unify.

“We have seen the con­se­quence of los­ing the gover­nor­ship,” said Van Hollen. “We can’t take these elec­tions for granted, nei­ther can we con­tinue to lose in ru­ral ar­eas [Eastern Shore]. We need to reach out to the in­de­pen­dents and get their votes as well.”

Van Hollen said he is a strong sup­porter of ed­u­ca­tion and, as such, has in­tro­duced pro­pos­als to re­duce col­lege debt.

“It is wrong to have a sys­tem where grad­u­ates are en­ter­ing the work force with higher and higher debt hang­ing over their head,” said Van Hollen. He said he is in sup­port of al­low­ing stu­dents to re­fi­nance their debt and mak­ing that debt re­pay­ment ad­justable to earn­ings. Van Hollen said he has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to re­duce tu­ition.

In re­gard to the en­vi­ron­ment and specif­i­cally the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, Van Hollen cited the 2006 Farm Bill and his work to col­lab­o­rate with farm­ers on nu­tri­ent run off pro­grams. Pro­tect­ing the health of the Bay is es­sen­tial, Van Hollen said.

Ear­lier in 2016, Van Hollen was vo­cal about the con­tin­u­a­tion of the oys­ter restora­tion in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, writ­ing to the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers, “The Tred Avon oys­ter reef, like the Harris Creek oys­ter reef, will ben­e­fit all of the Bay’s stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing water­men and fish­er­men.”

Van Hollen also said he will en­cour­age high tech man­u­fac­tur­ing on the Shore.

“My op­po­nent has un­der­mined So­cial Security and Medi­care,” Van Hollen said. “Andy votes no to ev­ery­body. No, over and over again.”

He en­cour­aged those in at­ten­dance to be ac­tive in the up­com­ing elec­tion.

“We are ready to go and win elec­tions,” said Van Hollen. “Sign up to hand signs and fans, even Repub­li­cans will take a fan on a hot day.”

Werner, a na­tive of Mary­land, is a rel­a­tively new face to pol­i­tics. He voiced his sup­port for a $15 per hour min­i­mum wage and equal wages for women. On en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, Werner said Mary­land needs to do more to save the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

“I will work to have the fed­eral gov­ern­ment fund the dredg­ing of the Susque­hanna River, the dis­man­tling of the Conowingo Dam, and the building of wind farms along the river. Sav­ing the Bay will cre­ate jobs and bring more tourists to the Eastern Shore. We must pro­tect this na­tional trea­sure,” he said.

Werner spoke about bor­ders and na­tional security.

“We can’t dis­en­gage from the world; if you build walls, you sep­a­rate yourself off from the rest of the world,” he said.

Re­gard­ing for­eign trade, Werner said, “We [the United States] should re­main en­gaged with the world and work for free and fair trade.” He noted that means com­pet­ing with coun­tries that have slav­ery and no en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions, but that shouldn’t mean look­ing the other way for cheaper cloth­ing and increased prof­its.

Centreville Town Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ge­orge G. “Smokey” Sigler closed the rally with a re­minder to vote “yes” in Novem­ber for House Bill 1344. Gov­er­nor Larry Ho­gan signed HB1344 in May, clear­ing the way for a ques­tion on the method of elect­ing Queen Anne’s County com­mis­sion­ers to ap­pear on the bal­lot in the Novem­ber gen­eral elec­tion.

The bill — spon­sored by Del. Steve Arentz, R36-Queen Anne’s — calls for a non-bind­ing straw poll on the Queen Anne’s County bal­lot ask­ing for vot­ers’ opin­ions on whether com­mis­sion­ers should be elected only by vot­ers liv­ing within their dis­trict. The Queen Anne’s County Coun­cil of Gov­ern­ments, which has spear­headed the move for a straw poll, en­vi­sions four com­mis­sioner dis­tricts where peo­ple liv­ing in a dis­trict would elect only a per­son from that dis­trict and one at-large com­mis­sioner.

The af­ter­noon con­cluded with a silent auc­tion fea­tur­ing theme gift bas­kets and a 50/50 raf­fle. Pro­ceeds ben­e­fit the club.

The mis­sion of the Demo­cratic Club of Queen Anne’s County is to sup­port Demo­cratic can­di­dates for elected of­fices who are com­mit­ted to en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of life in Queen Anne’s County — based on a deep re­la­tion­ship with the water­ways of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and in­spir­ing ru­ral vis­tas — and a com­mit­ment that em­braces nur­tur­ing a sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment, pre­serv­ing a sense of com­mu­nity, and as­sur­ing the fu­ture of Queen Anne’s County as a de­sir­able place to live, work and visit.

The club chose CBEC, lo­cated at 600 Dis­cov­ery Lane in Gra­sonville, in part for its unique LEED cer­ti­fied “green liv­ing” ed­u­ca­tion building that serves as a model for green liv­ing on Eastern Shore and looks out onto the scenic Marshy Creek. CBEC is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to wet­lands en­vi­ron­men­tal re­search and habi­tat restora­tion.

PHOTOS BY HAN­NAH COMBS

Con­gress­man for the 8th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict in Mary­land, Chris Van Hollen seeks to re­place Se­na­tor Bar­bara Mikul­ski in the 2016 gen­eral elec­tion. Van Hollen speaks at the Unity Rally hosted by the Demo­cratic Club of Queen Anne’s County, Satur­day, June 18.

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