Van Hollen headlines Unity Rally
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.
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.