A DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST
I've grappled with the issues of poverty, job creation, and job readiness most of my life. I was raised in a low/moderate income household. When I was a young child and my dad was profoundly ill, my sister and I had to go fishing every day to get food for us to eat that night. No fish meant no dinner. So when I attended college, it was natural that I focused my studies on the politics, economics, and sociology of poverty; and after college and law school I did anti-poverty work in places like the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and South Central Los Angeles. Through those years of study and work, I grew both personally and politically, challenging many of the beliefs that I had grown up with. Raised a liberal Republican - early in my career I even worked for such liberal/moderate Republicans as former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean and former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp - I could no longer stomach the increasingly intolerant, narrow, divisive path that the party of my youth had taken. There simply was no longer room in my former party for someone with my pro-choice, pro-feminist, pro-LGBT, pro-environment, pro-worker, pro-small business beliefs. So a decade ago I switched parties, never looked back, and rather immediately became a Democratic activist.
Here In Maryland over the past decade I campaigned long days and nights for such statewide Democrats as Martin O'Malley and such local Democrats as Jim Gilchrist and Duchy Trachtenberg. While living in Rockville, I was a very active member of the D17 Democratic Club, working hard throughout Montfomery County to support former Councilmember Trachtenberg's ultimately successful effort to create legal protections for transgendered people. I traveled the state to campaign for the ultimately successful effort to attain marriage equality. And I'm a long time member of the National Organization for Women and often advise the organization's national president, Terry O'Neill, on politics and policy.
I've been active in Democratic Party politics at the national level as well. I was a very early supporter of Senator Obama's when he announced his race for the Democratic nomination for president, and early in 2007 began to serve both as an online education policy adviser to and an attorney for his first Presidential campaign. I traveled with the Obama campaign around the eastern half of the United States for months during the Democratic primaries to drum up local support; indeed, I am proud to note that I was in the room with Senator and Mrs. Obama in Columbia, SC when they learned they had won the South Carolina Democratic Primary. And throughout Obama's Presidency I've been a regular visitor to his White House and Cabinet agencies, advising Obama's senior appointed staff on education and job training policy.
Every day that I'm on the campaign trail, then, when I hear yet another personal story about the economic insecurity of someone in Glenmont or Aspen Hill or Longmead Crossing, I'm reminded of my own life experiences having to go fishing as a kid to allow my family to eat. That's why my campaign is focused like a laser on the sorts of jobs, job training, inequality, and housing issues that defined much of my formative personal life, and which today define the lives of all too many people of our community. Those are progressive Democratic concerns. They are concerns I've been fighting for as a Democrat here in Maryland for the past decade. And they are the concerns I will focus upon as your Delegate in Annapolis.