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Aspen Hill Civic Association

I just returned home after attending the evening meeting of the Aspen Hill Civic Association. Great turnout, and great meeting: lively, engaging, and relevant to the daily lives of the residents who turned out in such great force.

That got me thinking: I've traveled quite broadly around our nation, and I've experienced few places with as rich a tradition of active, progressive citizen engagement as Montgomery County. One result, of course, is that our tradition of progressive values often translates to the enactment in Annapolis of progressive legislation. On the other hand, there is often a timidity by the state's elected officials such that even progressive legislative accomplishments are oddly watered down in a legislature that's overwhelmingly Democratic --- and one that works, lest we forget, with a Democratic Governor.

Just this past session, for example, our leaders:

  • Raised the minimum wage --- a great thing, but burdened with too many exemptions and loopholes and it doesn't go into effect for years;

  • Extended statewide anti-discrimination protections to transgendered people --- a truly historic, wonderful action, but it would have been nice if the enforcement aspects of these new protections had been beefed up;

  • Provided crowd funding for small businesses --- a wonderful addition to the financing options available to our entrepreneurs, but also a missed opportunity to strengthen existing state programs to help entrepreneurs turn their dreams into business realities; and

  • Decriminalized marijuana possession --- a long overdue acknowledgement of the racist failure of prior law, but another missed opportunity to implement more holistic public health measures to combat drug abuse.

These are good actions, and I would have voted in favor of all of them. Still, it would have been nice if the Democrats in Annapolis had done more in each instance to further address our community's real problems. I'm running, when all is said and done, to remedy that.

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