GOP incumbents win in 36
— Incumbent Republican Dels. Steve Arentz (Queen Anne’s), Jeff Ghrist (Caroline) and Jay Jacobs (Kent) won re-election Tuesday in District 36, defeating three Democratic challengers.
The Republicans each won about 21 to 23 percent of the vote in District 36, while Democrats Keirien Taylor (Caroline), Michael Welker (Cecil) and Crystal Woodward (Queen Anne’s) earned between 10 and 12 percent.
Arentz was the top votegetter with 28,711 votes, followed by Jacobs (28,515) and Ghrist (26,751). Among Democrats, Woodward had 15,670 votes, Welker had 13,892 and Taylor garnered 12,948.
Each of the six candidates completed a League of Women Voters questionnaire on their positions on issues likely to be dealt with by the next General Assembly, which the Whig drew from.
Arentz, a former Queen Anne’s County Commission president and restaurant owner, called for reform to state education funding, health care costs and local transportation funding, among other positions.
“Maintenance of effort is no longer working, it needs to be looked at and replaced with a system that makes sense for all. More dollars need to be channeled into the early years of development,” he said, referring to the state-mandated minimum spending formula for public schools.
On the environment, Arentz wants to make improvements on renewable energy while continuing to monitor and protect the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
“I would focus on the Conowingo Dam, Baltimore Harbor and other pollutants to the bay,” he said.
Ghrist, a former Caroline County commissioner who built a career in retail management and real estate sales, stressed a focus on increasing accountability of school funding, increasing access to health care and drug treatment, and boosting cleaner energy to protect the bay, among other issues.
“Serving on the House Appropriations Committee, I have always supported education funding but we need more accountability in our schools. It’s not how much we spend that matters, it’s how we spend it,” he said. “In some counties we need to spend smarter so that the dollars go to the classrooms to give every student the tools to succeed in life.”
Ghrist said health outcomes on the Eastern Shore are among the worst in the state, in part because access to care in rural areas is limited.
“A rural health care workgroup was formed two years ago and led by your District 36 team to address these issues. My role on the Appropriations Committee will be to ensure that we support our stakeholders and local providers,” he said.
Jacobs, a former mayor of Rock Hall and small business owner, emphasized a need to address the debris buildup at the Conowingo Dam, reducing the reach of the federal and state governments on local schools and lowering health care costs.
“I am a strong supporter for allowing local communities to set the standards for their school system,” he said. “I am also opposed to the Eastern Shore being a net exporter of cash to other school districts. Our money should stay on the Eastern Shore where it benefits our students.”
Estimating 90 percent of the pollution risk to the Chesapeake Bay comes from Pennsylvania via the Susquehanna River, Jacobs called for the Conowingo Dam to be dredged to reduce that pollution load.
He also said “no parent should have to choose between paying for health care and paying the mortgage.”
“We must bring competition to the market place to drive prices down,” he said. “I support a state system that creates competition in the marketplace as a way to bring down the price of health care.”
Taylor, a graduate student at Salisbury University and an activist, voiced his support for the expansion of renewable energy, pursuing laws that support equality, and moving Maryland toward a single-payer health care system, among other issues.
“Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our state should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income,” he said.
With regard to legislation addressing discrimination, Taylor said he backs all legislation that supports equality, including ideas like bail reform.
“We must pursue policies to transform this state into a place that affirms the value of its people of color, LGBT, and women. That starts with addressing the five central types of violence waged against marginalized communities: physical, political, legal, economic and environmental,” he said.
Welker, the president of the Cecil County Democrat Club, stressed working with farmers to address the health of the Chesapeake Bay, supporting universal health care and legalizing marijuana to fund transportation projects, among other ideas.
“Access to affordable, quality health care is currently the biggest issue facing Maryland overall. We need to make sure that our neighbors don’t have to fall behind on their bills just to be able to go to the doctor’s office or pay for basic necessary medicine like insulin,” he said. “Maryland has the capability to provide a statefunded universal health care program. It’s time we did that.”
In touting the tax revenue benefits of marijuana legalization, Welker suggested those funds could be put to use to modernize Maryland’s transportation system.
“We should reinvest in a light rail maglev system for the entire state — an affordable, efficient means of transportation that will ease the congestion on our freeways,” he said.
Finally Woodward, the director of the American Diabetes Association’s Government Affairs & Advocacy division, emphasized aiding farmers to meet increasing environmental mandates, lowering health care and supporting school funding.
“Maryland has made remarkable progress in decreasing the amount of nitrogen and nutrient pollution. We need to continue to help farmers manage manure, support the extension and upgrading of septic systems, reduce plastics, promote smart growth and development, and transition to renewable energy sources to protect our environment and to promote economic prosperity and job growth,” she said.
Woodward believes every Marylander has the right to access affordable quality health care and medications regardless of their employment, economic status or age.
“I will fight to lower the cost of quality health care for all Marylanders including seniors and patients with pre-existing conditions and explore state-funded dental insurance options for seniors,” she said.
The Incumbents in the District 36 General Assembly delegation won re-election Tuesday. From left are Del. Jay Jacobs, R-36-Kent; Del. Steve Arentz, R-36-Queen Anne’s; state Sen. Steve Hershey, R-36-Upper-Shore; and Del. Jeff Ghrist, R36-Caroline.